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Friday April 4 2014
World Cup Squad Selector: Toni

Could Luca Toni’s Indian summer with Verona see him enjoy next summer in Brazil with the Italy squad? Sam Lewis considers the veteran’s chances.

Despite being the grand old age of 36, veteran Luca Toni has turned what was originally seen as a twilight spell at newly promoted Hellas Verona into one of the more surprising success stories in Serie A, as both he and the Gialloblu have defied expectations with their performances so far this season.

Toni’s career began 20 years ago at Modena, and has since spanned 16 clubs and brought more than 200 career goals from 14 teams in Italy alone, most notably from his spells for Palermo and Fiorentina, which earned the forward a move to German giants Bayern Munich in 2007.

Toni won the World Cup with Italy in 2006, but a lacklustre spell for Juventus during the 2011-12 season had many thinking that the striker’s career was on the wane, seemingly confirmed by a move to Arabian side Al Nasr in the summer of 2012.

However, a return to Florence just six months later laid the foundation for Toni’s spell in Verona, where as the focal point of Hellas’s attack he has so far scored 15 goals and assisted seven more.

Not blessed with tricky feet like fellow countrymen Giuseppe Rossi and Antonio Cassano, Toni’s game hasn’t changed all that much over the course of his career. Relying on his 6’4 frame and impressive leap, Toni is the prototypical centre forward, dominating defenders despite his growing years.

His head has been his main source of goals throughout the season, as is the trend for his career, but the 36-year-old’s awareness and ability to find teammates make him more of a complete package than stereotype would suggest.

Toni has never been called up to the Italy squad by Cesare Prandelli, his last game in savoy blue coming in a 3-0 loss to Brazil in July 2009. After being left out of predecessor Marcello Lippi’s provisional squad for the 2010 qualifying campaign and the World Cup tournament itself, Toni’s international career stalled.

However, given the anxiety over Giuseppe Rossi’s availability this summer, the poor form of Dani Osvaldo and the desperate need to have a stable back-up to the mercurial Mario Balotelli, Luca Toni provides a solid, experienced alternative that could be a valuable addition to Prandelli’s young Italy.

Toni is close to the form that earned him the starting job for La Nazionale in 2006, ahead of stars like Filippo Inzaghi, Alessandro Del Piero and the then exciting Alberto Gilardino, and Vincenzo Iaquinta, who was in the form of his life. Could history repeat itself and see Toni make the squad alongside Balotelli, ahead of Rossi and the likes of Ciro Immobile and Mattia Destro?

Despite it being unlikely given his absence from Cesare Prandelli’s squads in the run-up to the World Cup and any other time during his tenure as Azzurri Coach, rumours of considerations being given to fellow veterans Antonio Cassano and Francesco Totti mean that Luca Toni may just have a chance of making a push for another turn in a fascinating career.

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Have your say...
No place for Luca Toni please! This is how final squad should look like. Goalkeepers- Buffon,Sirugu,Scuffet. Defenders- De Sciglio,Chiellini,Barzagli,Bonucci,Abate,Pasqual,Palleta. Midfielders- Pirlo,Montolivo,Marchisio,De Rossi,Verrati,Insigne,Candreva,Thiago Motta Forwards-Balotelli,Cerci,Immobile,Rossi,Cassano.
on the 14th April, 2014 at 3:14am
David Luiz and others will eat every Azzurri striker for breakfast besides this man. Surely better than Gilardino or Osvaldo.
on the 11th April, 2014 at 6:45pm
I get what you fans are saying but Toni on an international level in 2014 Brazil we cannot be seriously remotely absurd in even thinking of putting him in the Azzurri squad that's suppose to bring the world cup trophy back to Italia. He's had his time to shine so please let's not waste this jibberish yapping about where to include him into a squad. We have an abundance of strikers to choose from.
on the 11th April, 2014 at 2:33am
So many Destro lovers... but the reality is neither Toni or Destro score "impressive goals" both are clinical finishers inside the box but Destro runs in behind defenders and works a bit on the Defensive end. Toni can hold play up to a degree and is a threat in the air. Current reality for me is that Immobile scores more impressive goals than even Balotelli and perhaps is the most complete but that does not always mean most efficient. It is a really tough decision in all fairness.
on the 9th April, 2014 at 10:10pm
@Viktor. Unfortunately you are right. The question is why? He is not an automatic starter even for Milan as can be seen in Seedorfs latest selections. Great strikers are automatic choices. Look at Tevez, Higuain and Di Natale.Balotelli is a bench warmer at best. Balotelli is all hype and is always in the media for the wrong reasons when more deserving strikers on current form should be streets ahead of him in the pecking order to play for Italy.
on the 9th April, 2014 at 11:25am
@viktor. i agree with your point but why? lately he is starting on the bench behind pazzini! surely on form he has to be behind destro, immobile and even toni! He's not good enough week in week out as a starter for milan how can he be good enough for italy?
on the 9th April, 2014 at 11:18am
If i were prandelli,i would leave all the spuad and take francesco totti.
on the 9th April, 2014 at 7:21am
L.Toni is a monster, even in his near expired form as a footballer. A call up would bring an extra spark for him as well as he want to go out on top. I love Balotelli, he is one of my favorite players... but every week I watch him jog around for Milan, it's getting annoying. He needs to change his attitude especially when it comes to the Azzurri.

Other picks:
1. Totti - amazin, on form, can he handle the heat?
2. Giovinco - Super-Sub Del Piero Style
3. Cassano - Top of his game right now
on the 9th April, 2014 at 2:03am
Balotelli has his "drops" now and the ?? Hahahaha this whole seasons been a drop! He scored 1 good goal against bologna and thats been pretty much it. Of late he hasnt even been a first choice for milan so please explain how he could be picked above immobile or destro? I dont think toni should be in the squad he suffered in germany and I suffered watching him but I struggle to see how balotelli is being handed a spot before many strikers who are scoring more and in better form!
on the 8th April, 2014 at 3:46pm
@Dario

Let me tell you something true. There is no offensive player in Italy right now who as a more secure spot then Balotelli. But I guess you're right.. let's leave him home.

Balotelli will stay on the pitch longer shorter then toni? You think toni has to the endurance or stamina to stay on the pitch in brazil longer then 45 mins? You kidding? Balotelli might have he's drops now and then but for the national he's a beast and is the most feared player we got. Him and pirlo.
on the 8th April, 2014 at 3:03am
i would pick toni over balo...why? more reliable, more experience, more professional, better attitude, will stay on the pitch longer, less likely to get booked and more importantly scores more goals! still would not take toni so why would i want balotelli!
on the 7th April, 2014 at 6:03pm
Leave balotelli, toni, oswaldo and please no more gilardino. Bring immob, destro, insigne, cerci and cassano
on the 7th April, 2014 at 4:55pm
@Mustaafaaaa

Are you insane? You would pick Toni over Balo?? Are you watching football or just focusing on hating milan players?
on the 7th April, 2014 at 1:10am
Id rather Giovinco to be a sub as that is where he is best. Forget him starting cos he is useless as a starter but when teams are tired mentally n physically his pace and trickery can be vital. How is Toni gonna worry Cahill, Jaglieka or Godin? With trickery or turn of pace? They like the physical stuff so he can't bully them. Italy are not even short of strikers, which is y this is just an odd topic. Immobile, Destro and Insigne are doing very well. Balotelli is a shoo-in. Anyways he aint going
on the 6th April, 2014 at 11:59pm
Seriously? Toni? Lets go back 6 years ago when he was 30 and still relatively young in the cold countries of Austria n Switzerland, he flopped rather badly. But fwd 6 yrs later in the heat of Brazil at 36 some want him there? To do what exactly. Look I hate it to break it to ya but SerieA is not a top tier league, which pains me to say as I love it. Was 2010 a mirage when Lippi took old men to Germany? This is not Baggio, Maradona or Pele at 36, this is Toni. Where r d crosses coming from?
on the 6th April, 2014 at 11:50pm
All that glitters isn't gold.

I like Luca Toni, but he should not be going to the World Cup. He doesn't fit the new Azzurri's playing style, and the majority of his goals are tap-ins from perfect passes or clean-up goals in front of the net, usually after a blocked save or deflection.

We need young, energetic, creative players to create excitement.

Players would should not go: Toni, Gilardino, Osvaldo, and Diamanti.

Players that should go: Immobilie, Destro, Rossi, and Cerci.
on the 6th April, 2014 at 11:20am
Some interesting thoughts. Toni on the number of goals and assists deserves to go but I would not take him although he may be a good sub. His age and number of games in so few days will go against him. The same could be said of Totti and Cassano. If and when Italy go behind they will have to work harder to score and you need players who can run their legs off. In that heat and humidity Toni will suffer. Younger hungrier players are needed. Insigne, Immobile Cerci definite.
on the 6th April, 2014 at 8:59am
When I read a similar story at the start of the season, I thought, "This is a bit crazy." Then, Luca Toni had not even scored a goal and it seemed more like an urge to bring back the past. However, after scoring 16 goals so far, there is logic to such a claim. As this writer correctly points out, Mr. Toni's game benefits a large, 36-year-old frame as it does not rely on fast paced-dribbling around defenders. The Azzurri should consider him as they may need a veteran like him in the locker room.
on the 6th April, 2014 at 12:28am
Anonymous
For the record Toni has also scored against Buffon,,,juventus!!! Who exactly does balo score against?
on the 5th April, 2014 at 10:08pm
Manny
Why Insigne!??

Believe me I am thinking before I talk,,,, are you sir????
Any Italian who scores 16 goals with a month of season still to go,,,playing for Verona deserves to go!! I am not getting into a words war with you,,, let's just agree to disagree like men,,as with respect I cannot agree with anything you bring to the table.
Regards.
on the 5th April, 2014 at 9:59pm
To manny

No I am not joking you support England it's obvious,,with respect,,,let's agree to disagree, Toni is a class act you would rather take gio??? On what basis?? Please let's change the subject as Toni and giovinco are worlds apart, ,
on the 5th April, 2014 at 9:55pm
No sir!! Not ahead of Destro!! ,, pick Destro too,,, I mean ahead of gilardino ,,, look at the strikers,,, I mean ahead of gilardino and ahead of others,, I did not mean Destro I too would take Destro,,,but believe me I would find a space for Toni,,, please stop being ageist!!! It's a tournament,, he can be useful ok,, stop looking at someone's age,,the guy is scoring for fun!!!!!!
on the 5th April, 2014 at 9:51pm
Everyone who thinks Luca Toni should be picked ahead of guys like Destro or Immobile should give your head a shake. Yah its easy to score goals against teams like Bologna and Catania. Serie A has regressed as a league. Do we really want this guy competeing against the best in the world? I'd rather take my chances in some fresh young legs with creativity.
on the 5th April, 2014 at 9:10pm
to Baggiot class balotelli not!
You must be joking Toni brings nothing so he won a world cup but look who was there he did nothing beside lose the ball every time he touched it so please stop and Balo brings a lot yea he might not had a good year with milan but that whole club didnt have a good year so please think before u talk. Balo Rossi,Immobile,destro,Cassano,Totti,Insigne, those are the forwards that should go.I would pick giovinco instead of toni anytime of the week gio creats a lot.
on the 5th April, 2014 at 9:09pm
To manny


Your talking nonsence...giovinco ahead of Toni..... Do you support Italy.? Or England or Uruguay or Costa Rica??? I really am shocked at what I am reading in an Italian site!!! You guys understand nothing about football,,,about presence.. Do you know the presence Toni has?? This guy is amazing,,,what amount of goals have Ballotelli and Cassano scored for Italy?? Look ...irrevelevent of how many goals Toni scored,,,he won a World Cup,,,learn about the bigger picture please!!!
on the 5th April, 2014 at 8:39pm
I can't understand why Luca Toni is consider to go to the Brazil. Yes Toni has 16 goals but about 13 of them are from a empty net. Toni can't hold the up nor pass nor run and is always on the floor he doesn't bring anything to the team. The center forwards that should go to Brazil are Balotelli, Immobile, Destro they can hold up the ball and pass,create space and score they bring something special. I would love to see Cassano, Totti, Giovinco, Insigne, Gabbiadini go to Brazil they are dynamic.
on the 5th April, 2014 at 7:26pm
Take Materazzi. He scored a couple of useful goals in 2006 including one in the final lest we forget.
on the 5th April, 2014 at 2:00pm
It is one player on a 23 man squad, to evaluated a single player not in relation to the rest of the team is useless unless your arguing with yourself on the internet about a article you just read. I really do not think Gilardino or Osvaldo will be on the plain which then leaves the question of Immobile, Toni, or Destro and all three have distinct but different qualities. It truly depends on how you would want to play and who is playing around them.
on the 5th April, 2014 at 9:08am
'Goal machine that is balotelli'- believe me I was being sarcastic! If I had my way id leave balo at home altogether- unfortunately we are stuck with him! As prandelli seems set to build a team around him as if he was maradona, baggio or messi. In the eyes of some balo is everything- in my eyes hes everything Id want strikers not to be! But toni is great at club level but for azzurri hes just not good enough, age is nothing to do with it. Id be happy if totti went, just no gilardino, PLEASE!
on the 4th April, 2014 at 11:26pm
Iv said for a while I think on merit he deserves to be on plane, don't get me wrong he won't play 90 mins all the games etc but his experience could be of use along with Gigi and Pirlo, ever feel it written in the stars? After having a still born baby to returning from the dead back to serie a! He will get winner in the final last minute header!!!
on the 4th April, 2014 at 9:47pm

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