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Thursday April 24 2014
Finishing the Azzurri revival

Cesare Prandelli will be staying on after the World Cup. Jeremy Lim celebrates the Coach’s impact, and explains how his work has led up perfectly to the tournament in Brazil.

Some things are just meant to be. Approaching the final stretch in preparations before the World Cup, Italy received her strongest boost with news that Cesare Prandelli would be extending his time in charge. The all-but-signed renewal of the love affair to 2016 came as important confirmation of a country truly starting to believe on the eve of the FIFA showpiece.

Winds of change have come swiftly during the 56-year-old’s spell. Clocking almost four years at the helm now, Italy have progressed into a truly modern outfit under his watch. Even the timing of an extension hinted at the changes in mindset afoot. “Strange to renew without a sporting achievement first? In fact this is the first time it has happened in Calcio. This is proof that we have worked well and that our path may continue regardless of what happens,” Prandelli underlined.

But even if it is unusual, it is thoroughly deserved. Few from the Italy camp have tired of the bounce the former Fiorentina boss has introduced since being hired as Marcello Lippi’s successor, after the Azzurri were unceremoniously dumped out of the group stages at the 2010 World Cup. Prandelli’s open-minded ways were to basically save Calcio from itself in the aftermath. His solution to the rut has been simple - hard work and fresh ideas.

Part of the rethink meant severing ties with the nostalgic heyday of Italy becoming World Champions that was weighing heavily on steps taken forward. Rather than sticking with the winning relics leftover from Berlin, the trainer has given his nation a future by advocating fresh blood. Hungry, eager and flourishing starlets such as Mario Balotelli, Ciro Immobile, Stephan El Shaarawy, Marco Verratti and Mattia De Sciglio all owe their senior international debuts to Prandelli.

Presently, up to 10 players aged 23 and below find themselves in contention to make this summer’s trip to Brazil. You can sense the school of thought behind Prandelli’s decision to blood those youngsters of great potential yet who can also show their worth today when he says: “The younger players have in recent weeks emerged from their shells, convinced many doubters and proved they can handle the pressure.”

The Azzurri beginning their assault on the World Cup in Manaus will not be composed of spring chickens, however. There is fresh blood in the national team, but its core remains. Prandelli is counting on his remaining veterans to great extent: “I am like Lippi - if we are without Andrea Pirlo and Gianluigi Buffon then we will be in bad shape. Players like Pirlo, Buffon and Daniele De Rossi have always responded in an extraordinary way and have shown the right spirit.”

The result of such an approach? A team that has looked assured in dictating play and constantly demonstrated to be greater than the sum of its parts, such as when it reached the Euro finals for the first time in 12 years, or overcame the oppressive heat to clinch third at the Confederations Cup the next year. A team that, with the code of ethics implemented, has returned the public’s sense of pride in supporting.

Even tempered with reality, it’s hard to suppress the feeling Prandelli could be on to something special in the upcoming tournament as the opportunity to consolidate Italy’s progress approaches. In some ways, in many ways, the growth showcased could mean lifting football’s greatest prize this time out would rival or even surpass the triumphant World Cup campaign of 2006 - thanks in no small part to the Coach, who promises to build a winning era as he continues leading the way.

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Have your say...
It's all to do with heart and the passion to win and to play to the best of ones ability. Without these you might as well stay home and watch the world cup on your television. If every player show these attributes and play as a TEAM then believe me we will go far wheather you like these players or not. If our players do not give 100% at every game then we fall at the first hurdle. I know we haven't got a Messi,a Neymar or a Ronaldo but if we play as a team and for each other then we'll do well.
on the 29th April, 2014 at 8:46pm
@lupo
I didnt ask for facts-
we conceded 10 goals in confed cup 5games!
We conceded 7 goals in the euros.
My point is we concede to many to easily. Its all great having an attack style but with inconsistent strikers its a dangerous game to play. The bad thing is we have a good pool of strikers to choose from none are used consistantly, and the constant formation and system and style "experiments" is very unsettling- great we have 'options' but this is a joke.
We r here to win not entertain!
on the 28th April, 2014 at 10:33am
Prandelli is putting together THE WORST italian team in history. I am a die hard azzurri fan but not this italy team that hasn't won a game in over a year......how do you expect to win Without the best talent in italy.? Luca Toni has 20 goals and he's still bringing osvaldo and gilardino? Montolivo who can't pass a ball over totti??? Italy won't WIN A SINGLE GAME IN BRAZIL. Garbage squad
on the 28th April, 2014 at 2:11am
Lupo - you make more sense than CP
on the 27th April, 2014 at 11:10am
@mm You asked for facts you got them - I´m just making the point that if you are going to give an opinion then have a basis of your argument don´t just take the easy point of view which is blanket criticism. I personally want to see Cerci and Insigne given playing time, I would like to see Verratti too. Contrary to popular belief I think Osvaldo could be more use than Balotelli, a reference point in the way that Luca Toni was in 2006.
on the 26th April, 2014 at 9:34pm
Mm, I'm very interested to know what squad you would pick for the World Cup ???
on the 26th April, 2014 at 5:25pm
@lupo
Your hired!
on the 26th April, 2014 at 2:07pm
Also with these stats lets not forget that these goals were conceded by truly terrible players such as Zoff, Albertosi, Facchetti, Scirea, Gentile, Cabrini, Baresi and Maldini.

Obviously these players were worse than the towering standards of Bonucci, Barzagli, Chiellini... so it´s understandable that we should expect Italy to not concede ever, even in training matches.

How many years has it been since Cannavaro or Nesta that Italy have produced a genuinely world class defender?
on the 26th April, 2014 at 12:16pm
@mm ok some preachable facts for you as you seem to think Italy have never conceded:

1934 scored 11 (7 against USA) conceded 3 = Winners
1938 scored 11 conceded 5 = Winners
1970 scored 10 conceded 4 = Finalists
1982 scored 12 conceded 6 = Winners
1994 scored 8 conceded 5 = Finalists

In 82 we scored 1 goal in the first group stage.
In 94 we scored 2 goals in the group stage and conceded 2.

In 06 we conceded 2, but that was the anomaly not the norm.
on the 26th April, 2014 at 11:38am
Prandelli made the changes in 2010 that any manager with half a brain could had to make. Its pretty obvious that canavaro and co couldnt keep going at the rate they did in 2006. If thats what you call a revival then ok im wrong in my opinions, what troubles me is that whilst his work on the attack front of italy is good the defence is getting worse and worse, we concede in every game and our strikers seem to score very little- immob and destro have been over looked time and time again.
on the 26th April, 2014 at 10:35am
@mm What revival ?
revival from the depths of 2010
revival from the embarrassment brought about by stubborn old lippi
I am amazed that you ask "what revival" you must not know much about the game
on the 26th April, 2014 at 9:31am
@lupo
Im a milan fan to. If he gives me the job I want you right next to me, with your clear underatanding and guidance wed end up in serie b!
on the 26th April, 2014 at 12:23am
@lupo
Keep being the great 'fan' that you are. When you wake up and see that teams who concede like we do dont win anything maybe you can come on here and preach a proper argument! All well and great wanting modern football but if we concede as much as we do we need balotelli to actually look like he can be bothered to play in every game.
In 2006 we conceded 1 goal until the final. 1! We concede atleast 1 a game!
I want to win the way we know how- if you want entertainment go cinema!
on the 26th April, 2014 at 12:19am
@mm for Italy CT with his vast knowledge of football and capacity to repeat the same as other critics. No the Italy squad isn´t perfect, yes blooding youngsters is a good idea but to call a man, who took us to a final in 2012 with possibly the 12th most competitive team in the tournament and who has scheduled fitness tests to give players personalised world cup preparation, a joke, just shows what a superior football mind @mm must be. As a Milan fan, I hope Silvio employs @mm for next season.
on the 25th April, 2014 at 8:20pm
B40
You like the attack style, good for you. It would be even better if cp used strikers that actually score. There is literally a whole team of players he NEEDS to leave at home unfortunately those players seem to be his favourites! He learnt nothing in the euros and less in the confed cup. If he had learnt anything we wouldnt be sat here having to protest against players like gila, oswaldo, motta, monto, balo, barzagli etc etc even being mentioned. Hes had years to use better players!
on the 25th April, 2014 at 5:53pm
I think prandelli has done a good job so far, I'm glad he's staying on for another 2 years, I know we're not as strong in defence as we have been but we haven't got nesta, cannavarro, zambrotta, maldini anymore, we have good defenders but let's face it those guys were supermen, we're more attack minded and have a good mix of youth and expiriance, we're not among the best teams but we have a strong side that will cause any team problems, FORZA ITALIA....
on the 25th April, 2014 at 2:31pm
Overall, I like CP & his attacking approach. There are always going to be a facet or two about a coach that we don't like or agree with: what manager out there can tick every box? MM has pointed out some good ones. What does bug me is how everyone is saying that he is doing a fine job in bringing through the young players. I don't see this myself. The youngsters have had mostly cameo roles. My fear is that we still will see the likes of Gilardino & Osvaldo ahead of the likes of Destro & Imo.
on the 25th April, 2014 at 1:11pm
only if he shakes off his Fiorentina man-love (Aquilani, Montolivo, Gilardino).
on the 25th April, 2014 at 10:23am
Prandelli is a dying breed, a humble, yet progressive manager who stands by what he believes. He has truly transformed the Azzurri in a short space of time. They have an identity and purpose under Prandelli and it's getting better. I, like others, don't agree with some selections like Osvaldo, Gila, Monty etc, but I'm sure he has his reasons and am willing to back him this time. If Italy get out their group, they'll have a real chance. The Confed Cup experience will be to their advantage.
on the 25th April, 2014 at 9:54am
Its nice that 'fans' like the way he has italy playing, with his great number of formations and playing styles, its great that hes taken us away from playing defensively (we won 4 wc that way!), the great excitement of conceding more goals under CP than we probably did throughout the 90s-2006 not to mention the excitment of losing 4-0 in the final! Great to see great players struggle to get in the team whilst gila, oswaldo and balo have an automatic selection!
Im a real fan- CP must go- ASAP
on the 25th April, 2014 at 9:21am
@Anonymous
Totally agree, he is ridiculous.
@ El Guapo Juanito
if hes a great manager why are you even having to hope those players wont be included? a great manager going into a world cup would not even look in the direction of gilardino and oswaldo when we have immob and destro scoring for fun- YET NEITHER HAVE BEEN AN AUTO SELECTION. A great manager looks at players who can lead, play in a unit, consistancy and form. Yet all I see is everyone rallying around balotelli like he will save us..
on the 25th April, 2014 at 8:55am
I fail to see how being subjected to another 2 years is great news. What 'revival' are we talking about? Im still being subjected to seeing gilardino in an azzurri shirt! He speaks of change but not much has changed, he doesnt pick a team based on form, he picks on hype and names, he still has no idea on 442, 352, 118-118, this mans a joke! Verratti, immob, destro should be well integrated instead none have played consistantly despite being in better form than their over hyped equivalent!
on the 25th April, 2014 at 8:29am
Great coach and solid foundation his building. Truly respect him. I do not wish for Italy to win at Brazil but at least qualify to Semi-Finals to show other countries how strong Italy is. I also hope Prandelli dont bring T.Motta, Gilardino, Barzagli (no offence but his pace is slow), Osvaldo and other old players. This WC2014 will be good to give youngsters the chanc and when next WC is played in Euro or Asia... That's where Italy will be strong to win it. Forza Italia..
on the 25th April, 2014 at 2:23am
Prandelli's done great work by focusing on a creative midfield instead of the old DM system. No, we don't quite have Spain's selection of mids but long term, that's the direction we need. Technical, creative, mobile. Able to create chances, not just counter-attack.

Unfortunately for CP, we have no chance in this WC because of the weather. We're one of the unfittest nations. It's a shame because the team is very good.
on the 25th April, 2014 at 1:42am
Coach Prandelli has been a steadying hand who has built a strong team foundation and, most importantly, injected the Azzurri with enthusiasm and belief going into the World Cup. Italy is sitting in the position it strategically prefers at the start of a World Cup: a strong team that is respected but not among the favorites. From this cat perch, their game is to push past the group stage into the knockout rounds, building momentum with each game, and take the favorites by surprise in the late stages of the tournament. It’s the right strategy that could take them all the way. Italy-Brazil would be the dream final.
on the 24th April, 2014 at 11:55pm
Respect to Prandelli who has done very well in pioneering the way for coaches down the road. Of course some will be upset at the exclusion of those such as Di Natale or upset with the inclusion of those such as Osvaldo; this is life; there are things beyond our comprehension. Italy may not be favorites but are certainly a strong unit who can hold their own versus any team. This is why fitness is key for us. This Italy shows good fighting and confident spirit. We can win it all. Forza Azzurri.
on the 24th April, 2014 at 10:16pm
The things that disappoints me about the criticism of Prandelli by alleged tifosi (and I do mean alleged) is that as a nation we should be proud to have a very human coach who took a year out of football to nurse his dying wife and who was the catalyst behind terzo tiempo. It´s easy to criticise and stay anonymous but personally I feel proud in these days of hype and bluff that the azzurri have a coach who is a gentleman and who acts with dignity. Win or lose I am with Gli Azzurri to the end.
on the 24th April, 2014 at 8:51pm
Brazil certainly will not win. Spain are simply too good and experienced to lose twice. Last time was a fluke, and they were exhausted. I don't like Spain as much as anyone here, but Prandelli has cocked this up monumentally. We could have had a monster team to bring home a 5th title, or at least get to the Maracana' to avenge '94. Hiring a man with an empty CV and no tactical ideas, with poor decisions, with stupid favoritism, cowardice, et, etc, etc

Too little too late. Comunque, Forza.
on the 24th April, 2014 at 6:47pm
Especially in a World Cup with so many great teams, it is a tough tournament. Having said that, I have seen Italian sides that have sat back on leads and played very defensively after one goal. I do like how Prandelli has infused more of an attaching minded team and also have brought up many young players that have great talent. Our future looks bright
on the 24th April, 2014 at 6:18pm
You cant take away what Prandelli has accomplished so far. I think he's a superb coach. Of course you are going to have fans that wish certain players would be cut or make the team. But honestly, fans are not coaches, just fan boys of the player on the back. Lippi didnt give Cassano a chance, meanwhile thanks to Prandelli's open mind, cassano was/is included. Young players now have a chance, and he is making fitness his top priority, which i agree with 100% especially in the hot climates.
on the 24th April, 2014 at 6:09pm

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