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Friday June 20 2014
Italy's Costa Rica chemistry was off

Cesare Prandelli changed some things against Costa Rica and stuck with others, but Susy Campanale says he got the worst of both worlds.

Good old second game syndrome. Any Italy fan will be able to tell you it’s right to get nervous after winning the opener in a major tournament. A strong start is rarely a good sign for the Nazionale. Having England fans cheering us on and Gary Lineker wearing an Azzurri jersey just added to the bad mojo. Will it be Euro 1996 with first round elimination, or like Germany 2006 when we had to beat the Czech Republic to go through?

Ultimately luck played only the tiniest part in the defeat to Costa Rica. Italy did not perform up to scratch and looked to be feeling the after-effects of that game in Manaus. All except for Thiago Motta, who apparently was born drained of all energy and is the world’s only Brazilian who suffers with the heat in Brazil.

I have often criticised the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder and this showing in Recife really did just convince me: I don’t get it with Thiago Motta. I don’t understand his appeal, why he keeps being picked and what on earth he is supposed to bring to the squad. He’s less creative than Marco Verratti, more predictable than Alberto Aquilani and can be outdone for pace by Cesare Prandelli. We really should just introduce Prandelli as the first player-manager in a World Cup rather than ever play Thiago Motta again. He’s petulant, slow, sluggish, can’t defend, certainly can’t create and had the nerve to say being accustomed to the heat was “the only difference” between Italy and Costa Rica.

Prandelli had an important choice to make in Recife. He could either shake things up and rely on fresh legs on top of clear minds to take the Costa Rica game with the respect it deserved or stick with the same overall side that beat England in an attempt to secure qualification early. He did a bit of both and got the worst of both worlds.

Thiago Motta was dreadful in place of Verratti, negating the quality of the dual playmaker system to make Italy predictable and staid. Matteo Darmian had done so well in Manaus that putting him on the left seemed a waste, especially when Ignazio Abate has still not learned how to put in a decent cross. The Milan man is very quick, but getting to the by-line and then looking confused isn’t terribly helpful. Giorgio Chiellini was perhaps exhausted from playing as a full-back against England, because that was a disastrous performance in the centre and he should’ve given away a penalty too.

With Andrea Barzagli carrying an injury and Chiellini visibly shattered, can there be any reason not to play Leonardo Bonucci? His absence continues to baffle me, especially when he’s capable of inspired long-range passes.

The fresh legs were supposed to revive the team, but Antonio Cassano, Alessio Cerci and Lorenzo Insigne were the worst of the lot. I was so looking forward to seeing what they could do in this World Cup, especially the Napoli starlet, but his trickery and skill are pointless if he’s permanently offside. I also get the feeling Cerci is still psychologically scarred from his penalty miss for Torino on that final day of the season, even though in the end Parma’s unbalanced books made it irrelevant for Europa League qualification.

Now Italy find themselves in that oh so familiar position of needing a result in the last game of the group. In this case, it’s a head-to-head with Uruguay after Luis Suarez had plenty of target practice against England to get his match fitness levels up. It will be played in Natal at 13.00 local time against a South American side.

It doesn’t bode well, but then that seems to be just how the Azzurri like it in a World Cup.

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Have your say...
@ sanrella and mm quite frankly this is boring. I try and draw your attention to facts like Italy made it to the final of the euros and 3rd place in the confederations and breezed through two sets of qualifiers and you say but it's not acceptable because. I don't know you could've done better or something. You're the ones who have to come up with some convincing reason why Italy should sack a successful manager. Not just we lost a final to the best team in the world/this century.
on the 23rd June, 2014 at 4:25pm
Susy,

Finally someone who sees that Motta is past his playing days. Can you please relay that to Prandelli since he doesn't see it? Also, CP's substitutes in the second half are quite talented but there has to be some game plan, some tactic for them to succeed. I got the impression they were just thrown on with wishful thinking. How does CP not realize that Ballo and Pirlo are now marked men by every team they face and that even putting Cassano in their will require miracles is baffling.
on the 23rd June, 2014 at 5:58am
Also it because Italy need to take the opportunities we carft out as our conversion rate is not that great compared to other teams. to many times we hot the ball over or wide.I would like to see Insigne start as he has a bit of spark and give Cassano as he the only modern day trequartista we have hes like Del Piero/Totti of old can change the game in a instant. then you immobile who is on a hot streak. i just dont understand balotelli selection too many times he looks uninterested and just fouls
on the 23rd June, 2014 at 4:05am
Dont understand why everyone is belittling Prandelli, he has some amazing after was quite frankly an awful 2010 world cup,he made us play a more attacking style of football. Fair enough he is no Lippi (first stint) but i believe that he is one of the best managers in the world at the moment.
Our def and midfield are world class. chellini is an absolute rock whoever was slating him. cant name a better defend apart from maybe thiago silva. problem is the faith in balotelli(doesnt deliver enough)
on the 23rd June, 2014 at 4:00am
@maldini heir
Haha im a idiot now?? Haha I watch spain beat us 4-0 n you believe thats fantastic and im the idiot?
Everyone on here is hitting out at you n im the idiot? You came on here belittling everyone becoz apparently you used to be a semi professional footballer and think you know everything from the great cloud you perch yourself on! Hurling insults at ppl makes only 1 man an idiot- YOU. You make no sense when you blurt out your words of wisdom, so best keep idiotic comments to yourself
on the 22nd June, 2014 at 9:57am
Maresca, I like your "best possible" lineup, and agree with most of your choices.

Given what we have to work with now, this would be my lineup for Uruguay:

Sirigu
Darmian Barzagli Chiellini De Sciglio
Candreva Pirlo Verratti Marchisio
Insigne Immobile
on the 22nd June, 2014 at 5:26am
To re-cap,we have Pirlo,Buffon,Chellini,Balotelli,Verratti,Immobile,Insigne,Darmian,De Rossi.

With this team any top manager would breeze past this group.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 9:28pm
Maldini's Heir you've shown your lack of class and the fact I'm getting at you because you're now hurling insults.Shows your lack of maturity.

In 2012 we did not have an average team so shut up with that one.Getting to the final of the Euros was very good,fantastic,no.We then lost 4-0.

I would call fantastic as being the CR manager who not only qualified his team for the world cup but also beat us and Uruguay.

As I said Prandelli cannot live off past glories.
If we go out Tuesday then goodbye
on the 21st June, 2014 at 9:26pm
@ Maldini's Right Foot

Huh, you're deluded, and a die-hard-anti-Juve. Save it !
on the 21st June, 2014 at 9:20pm
@ mm you're such an idiot it's not even funny. Do you really believe that getting this average Italy team to the final of the euros was not a fantastic achievement? I don't care about the final result against the best team in the world at the time. It was a fantastic achievement and anybody who doesn't have their head up their backsides should be grateful to Prandelli. What a bunch ungrateful fans. With fans like this....
on the 21st June, 2014 at 8:32pm
Yet again with Iran we see a fantastic performance from a team playing a game like it was the world cup final.
I was gutted for them.

I wish we could take some of their spirit.I'm sure english fans feel the same.Whoever is in charge of the Azzurri they will have to contend with players who could play with more spirit.More national pride.

This world cup is anyones.We need to get through against Uruguay which would mean a probable game against Colombia who we can def beat.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 7:40pm
Maldini's Heir 2 years ago yes it is past glory.

A comfortable world cup campaign is good not great.Who did we play.Remember who we drew against.Remember the Con Cup.That wasn't a test he came through with flying colours.

Maybe he's had his good times and now he can do no more.Maybe 7 draws means he's has his time.

He's staying because he has a new contract and because Ancelotti is only one year into his Real Job.Conte I imagine still wants club football.Past those two I see no-one else.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 7:32pm
Hahahaha success against spain?? We lost 4-0. Hahhhaha your a joke! You are actually stupid and blind! Hahahhaha
on the 21st June, 2014 at 7:02pm
Everyone. No point in talking to maldini heir at all. He used to be semi professional which in his eyes means hes looking down on us all from a great height on a semi professional cloud of knowledge! The semii professional whos sees nothing wrong with a manger that could get us knocked out in the first round- bcoz on that cloud that he looks down at us from he believes that being smashed in euro final was a successful result and that ancellotti should be overlooked as he is unsuccessful!
on the 21st June, 2014 at 6:59pm
@ sanrella past glories? It was the last tournament. We're going back 10 years. Everything Prandelli has been successful with every test for Italy. Two of the most comfortable qualifying campaigns I can remember and an unprecedented final with what was an average Italy team. He's changed Italy's style of play and produced incredible performances against Spain, England and Germany. So not living on past glories. Living on current successes.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 6:52pm
@ Mustaffaa Who says Chiellini is "one of the best defenders in the world"?? You? If he was one of the best in the world he would be playing in the premier league and before you say I am pro British or the like I will say I grew up with Italian football and watched Serie A fall from the worlds number one league to the fourth (at best).
Chiellini is our weak link he is slow, dreadful on the ball and his positional play is suspect and because of our poor defence we are going out soon.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 6:43pm
@adrian I too was completely baffled by such a ridiculous comment. DDR a glorified defender? There is not a single player in the Italian squad bar Pirlo with his range of passing. I actually do think that he is wasted as a minder of other players that he is more talented that in Roma and Italy. The guy sees passes and executes them as well as anyone. Against Uruguay it is clear to me they need pace in the team so the likes of Immobile, Insigne, Veratti, Balo, Darmian and De Sciglo should play
on the 21st June, 2014 at 6:19pm
Also Maldini's Heir look at the CR manager.Look at whats he's done.Qualified for the world cup and beaten us and Uruguay with players most people couldn't name.

The players also have to take responsibility.Took often we criticise the manager when actually the players need to answer questions.

As for the heat,yes it did make a difference.I just hope if we get through our next game isn't yet again at midday in the heat.No wonder no european side has won the world cup in south america.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 5:18pm
Maldini's Heir you can't live off past glories.
Yes Prandelli got us to the Euro 2012 final where we were destroyed by Spain.

We then had the Con Cup last year where we were mauled by Japan and thrashed by Brazil.

We then had SEVEN draws in a row including with Luxumbourg and a loss to CR.

I like Prandelli.As a man I think he's a tremendous human being and I have nothing but respect.I'm saying if we crash out then maybe we should consider someone else.The reality is there probably is no-one.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 5:14pm
Giving Balotelli the stick, which means getting benched. Balotelli needs to know no goals no game time. I would play Ciro in the next game as much as I love balotelli his character is what it is so you need to keep him on his feet. Remember baggio in 94. We need to see what this team is rarely made of, Uruguay are there for the taking . Are we going to take or expect to get given? I thought Mr P wanted to take the game to the opposition so no more sitting back.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 4:26pm
Sometimes I can't take this forum seriously. De Rossi is not comfortable with the ball at his feet? Is this a serious comment? De Rossi is playing with an injury. Prandelli needs some things differently, he needs to use the outside factors heat, game timing, etc as a tool to inspire the players rather than something to fear. Agree with Dennis should have made more changes, he should have started with the front 6 that played against fluminense. Also Balotelli needs to be kept on his feet, he need
on the 21st June, 2014 at 4:20pm
my line-up for Uruguay:

buffon
barzagli-bonucci-chiellini
darmian-de rossi (parolo)-pirlo-verratti-MDS (Marchisio)
Balo-Insigne

Marchisio is not a wing-back and not having De Rossi will be a blow to the 3-5-2...but don't see what else we can do...Abate/Paletta/Motta/Aquilani should not even come near the bench!!
on the 21st June, 2014 at 3:31pm
From the beginning, everyone played like they used up all their energy on the Free Continental breakfast at their hotel. That said, throughout, I had only one question: why is there no Giuseppe Rossi in this side? Cassano is pushing 32, had a long season, and has a heart condition. Let's play him in Amazonian jungle heat. But 27 year old Rossi, though injured, has been doing nothing but training for this event for months! He really wasn't more fit that anyone who (barely) played yesterday?
on the 21st June, 2014 at 3:28pm
I agree with Alessandro, I would have started Cerci, Insigne and Immobile up front vs Costa Rica, let the kids show their hunger and give Balo a rest. See what they could provide in a nice to have but not need to have environment. Should have gone for the jugular rather than sit back and try to conserve energy and figure out how to finesse out a 1 to 0 win which maybe worked for Italia historically but really doesn't anymore.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 2:50pm
@ Maldini's Right Foot

Chiellini is the best Italy defender and one of the world's best. I think you meant to refer to Abate.

Our main weakness is the attack, not the defence. If we had a real goal scorer, we would have scored two before Costa Rica scored one.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 2:41pm
If you guys are calling for a new manager, there are only two qualified: Ancelotti and Conte. But neither would be leaving their clubs any time soon. I hopw Ancelotti is the next one. And I hope they won't opt for Ranieri.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 2:36pm
@Maldini' Heir,
De Rossi is not comfortable with the ball at his feet. He's nothing more than a glorified defender. I actually think they should play him as a cental defender in a 3 man defence against Uruguay.
For some reason Verratti didn't play against Costa Rica, so we were left with Pirlo to create everything himself out of the midfield. How can you possibly play possession football(Tikitalia)?
on the 21st June, 2014 at 2:22pm
Yes sanrella we should've replaced him with a manager whose proven themselves at international. Maybe a manager whose guided through two straightforward qualifiers and to the final if the euros. All with one of the worst Italy teams in my living memory (certainly the worst defence). Do you have any ideas who that manager might be? If only Italy had a manager like that.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 1:59pm
Prandell and the Azzurri seem more concerned with he heat and conserving energy, than they do about heir opponent. I dont hear other countries complaining about the need to have water breaks.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 1:56pm
@ anonymous yes that's what happens when a manager gets a team to the final. You fire them. Well done. Very rational.
on the 21st June, 2014 at 1:56pm

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