Friday, 12 October 2012

Armenia vs Italy Thoughts

De Rossi and Osvaldo scored for Italy along with
Andrea Pirlo in a 3-1 victory at Armenia today.
The trip to Armenia was another one of those games for Italy that you just knew seemed easier than it was going to be. Armenia thought to be a minnow among the general soccer population was not at all an easy victory for the Italians. As usual the Azzurri played down to their opponents, for whatever reason they cannot get up for these games. The difference between Italy vs Germany in the Euro tournament and Italy now is about the size of the Grand Canyon it would seem. However we must try to stay calm and cheer on the Azzurri no matter what.

This is still an experimental period for Cesare Prandelli and as we have seen he continues to test out many different players. Its a luxury Italy has that many other nations do not, which is they can test out a lot of different things and still come away with victories without the 'A' team of the moment. Prandelli is looking at the bigger picture and who might be his 'A' squad in 2014.

I hate to say it but the more I watch Sebastian Giovinco the more I lose faith in him. He is an incredibly talented player but he just can't get the job done on the big stage, whether it be with Juventus or the Nazionale. He started out well today vs Armenia, but they adjusted to him and he became a non-factor along with fellow striking partner Pablo Osvaldo for much of the match. One thing the Atomic Ant does extremely well though, is win fouls.

Domenico Criscito made his return to the squad and the masked man was one of the better players on the pitch, attacking the down the left flank and somehow getting back in defense as well. He may not have made a difference against Spain in the final of the Euro, but he would have made the team better overall, will be an integral part of the 2014 squad.

Chiellini was left out of Italy's starting XI
vs Armenia.
Italy however showed many holes in defense, they bent but didn't break .. although Gigi Buffon made an incredible stop on a Davit Manoyan volley which was set up by the man who was the best player on the pitch Henrikh Mkhirtanyan. The midfielder who plays with Ukrainian club Shakhtar took the game to Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci for the second time in as many weeks, the first being in the Juventus-Shakhtar Champions League match a week ago. But back to the Azzurri defense, the first question I ask is why Bonucci and Barzagli? Has Bonucci overtaken Giorgio Chiellini in the eyes of Prandelli? In my eyes the best central defense Italy can offer right now is Barzagli and Chiellini in a four man defense. Bonucci still has a lot of questions to answer as a young defender. Even if Prandelli is looking to the future, the most likely to be left out of the 2014 squad would be Barzagli as he will be 33 by then. However I still believe Italy's central defense is in good shape for the future as it usually is.

I still question Francesco Lodi not being given a chance at the Azzurri squad, dude can flat out play, is the best set-piece taker in Italy aside from Andrea Pirlo and has led Catania to successful Serie A seasons (by their standards) for quite some time now. So what gives? If your going to give Alberto Gilardino a call-up because he is in form, then Lodi deserves one also.

Riccardo Montolivo does nothing for me.

Tuesday will be a much more difficult match-up against Denmark, and hopefully the Azzurri will get some extra motivation from the home fans because they are going to need it. Hopefully Mario Balotelli is ready and able to play, and I'm willing to give Giovinco one more chance, mainly because I think the best complement for him is Super Mario. We shall see but expect another exploratory attack from the Azzurri.

Czech Republic2110314

Keep Calm and Forza Azzurri

With another set of World Cup Qualifiers on the horizon for Cesare Prandelli's re-vamped Azzurri squad, we as fans of the Nazionale, need to keep calm and trust in the project. As good as the run through the Euro 2012 was, one thing was very evident in the squad, the need for youth.

The first excuse used for the 4-0 drubbing in the final of the Euro was fatigue. Not for anything but Spain had to play the same amount of games, so why were the Azzurri so much more tired than 'La Roja'?

One thing is forsure Cesare Prandelli has recognized the need for a new influx of youth and is giving many youngsters a fair chance at making a name for themselves. Marco Verratti, Angelo Ogbonna, Mattia Destro just to name a few. If Italy is to be successful they will need these guys to be integral parts of the squad.

As great as Andrea Pirlo is, and how he has been able to continue playing at such a high level despite his age, he struggles when playing a lot of games in a short amount of time. Moving to Juventus last season was the best thing that could have happened for the midfield maestro. They had only the Serie A to worry about, it was their lone goal for the season, to return as Italian champions. Pirlo was able to stay fresh and was one of the main reasons, if not the reason Juventus was able to win the Scudetto. But in the Euro, and now in Juventus' Champions League campaign, he struggles when having to play a lot of games in a short amount of time. It's not that he becomes a horrible player, he is just not as good. This is where Marco Verratti comes in, at least for the Azzurri, Prandelli knows that it is time to start grooming the 19 year old to be the 'Regista' of the Azzurri midfield with Pirlo on the decline. We won't know how much Pirlo will be able to give the Azzurri come 2014, and with a talent as bright as Verratti it is a no-brainer that Prandelli should start to expedite the process of replacing Andrea Pirlo as the midfield maestro of the Azzurri.

Marco Verratti is not the only Italian youngster on the rise. Mattia Destro, Angelo Ogbonna, Lorenzo Insigne, Ciro Immobile, Luca Marrone, Stephen El Shaarawy, are just some of the names that have been getting Calcio fans excited over the last year or so and are all names that could and maybe should be on the 2014 World Cup Squad if they continue at their current rate of progression. That means a lot of the casual Azzurri fans won't know who the heck these guys are, and might be all up in arms when the time comes. Well I'm here to say Keep Calm and Forza Azzurri. We must trust in the project and trust in Prandelli building this squad.