A Glimpse of the Favourites: Part 6 - Italy

By Gabriel Cazotto

Profile: Catenaccio? Not this new Italy. However, if you need to defend hard, the three men from Juventus or De Rossi, in place of one of them, know very well how to make a lock. Trequartista dictating the match? Not in this new Italy. In the absence of a man who controls the ball as Totti or Del Piero made, Prandelli’s Azzurri begins to set the play from behind the midfield with Pirlo. Which is, then, the face of this new Italy? As the many harlequins that exists in carnivals held in Venice, the Azzurri style of play is always hidden behind a mask. The game that they will propose to the opponent is almost always unknown. Defensive line? Midfielder with two side defender or wings? Libero? Marchisio, Montolivo or Candreva? You never know, only one thing is certain, the team that is entering the field nowadays is trying something that 10 years ago was inadmissible for the Italian football: Attack. The team devises a offensive scheme betting on one of the two excellent young center-forwards: a son of Ghanaians naturalized Italian, quarrelsome, envolved on a lot of extra field problems and a young son of Egyptians very talented and with an ego of the same size. At the reserve, a veteran considered finished, but that still score his goals. Isn’t it a new face for this Italy?

Goalkeeper: How can I present Italy without telling about one of their main important players of the last 20-25 years. Italy’s goalkeeper is still the Best Goalkeeper of 2006 FIFA World Cup, and who is reaching his 5th World Cup to tie the record with German Lothar Matthäus and Mexican Goalkeeper Antonio Carbajal with 5 World Cup participations (despite being a reserve in 1998). Gigi Buffon is something special, is the kind of goalkeeper that appears in the world after years and years, this last World Cup from him to Italy might initiate by 2018 a search for a name that could at least be some steps below the quality, power and reflexes of the old keeper. In 2014 Buffon will reach his swansong, and perhaps with a memorable display. Problems to Italy? Well they may think that only after 2014 for this position.

Defenders: Prandelli is bold, the man exterminated the famous Italian Catenaccio with a sweeper that has been a focus of the team since 1982 with the appearance of Gaetano Scirea, followed by the so fantastic as Gaetano, Franco Baresi, which was followed by no one other than Paolo Maldini, which, as fantastically it seems was followed by Fabio Cannavaro. You see, the defense school of Italy is perhaps the main fantastic school in creating solid rock defenders. Prandelli, even being more attack minded never forgot the roots of this football, and the Italian 3-5-2 might not be a proper Catenaccio, but the work rate of the 3 central defenders of Juventus: Barzagli, Bonucci and Chiellini and the proper pillar to defend the Italian area like some soldier could defend their Alamo in a World war. This, can allow two main factors, Pirlo’s freedom to create, and Balotelli natural skill, without being argued to defend, something he doesn’t do, or pretend to do.

Midfielders: De Rossi defends as a lion, while Pirlo create as a musician. Italy got rid of the trequartista, the playmaker that they had with Totti and Del Piero (despite some claims that Totti might return to 2014. This time he would act more like a false centre forward than the creator of 2006). The creation of Italy attacks come from behind the midfielder, is something called Regista. As Buffon, this will be the last tournament of Pirlo, one of the greatest ever for Italy. But in this position the Azzurri already has a nice replacement, PSG’s Marco Verratti.

Forwards: Always seemed a problem to Italy besides Roberto Baggio in the 90’s. The name of nowadays is controversial. The Ghanaian born, also called a playboy, a troublemaker, a fighter. You can read news about his personal life and personal brawls rather than the fantastic football he plays. Yes, the man is crazy, but is incredible talented. “Super Mario” Balotelli is the key for some Italy aspiration in 2014. But, you never know what Balotelli is capable of. He can be a superhero like what he did with the Germans in Euro 2012 semifinal, and decide the games in minutes, or take a stupid red card, preventing Italy to have a proper striker, and having to bet in the old dog Gilardino, which we all know is not the same quality as “Super Mario”.

Tactics: Forget Trapattoni’s Catenaccio in 2002 or the team assembled with a Trequartista by Lippi in 2006. Prandelli revolutionizes, and lines-up Italy at a 3-6-1, taking into account the attack through the wings. The other big difference is that the main creator of the team comes from behind the midfield line, Pirlo acts almost as Matthäus played in 1990, a more advanced libero. Marchisio and Candreva plays as wingers, so Maggio and Giaccherini dictate the tempo on the side-lines. Prandelli can also use a two centre-forwards line-up with the attacking duo of Cerci and Balotelli. The team can also use De Rossi as a defender, he plays very well as a third man in central defense.



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