Friday, 19 June 2009

What's Happened to Italy?

I'm sure those among us, who all painfully wished for a break from football, in order to recharge our batteries, have been flirting with cricket, rugby and hell even a bit of Formula 1 over the past weeks, have come crawling back to the Confederations Cup for a bit of real sport.

Yes, watching the international might of New Zealand & Iraq is a thrilling business, and it also served up a fascinating encounter last night, between Italy and Egypt.

I apologise if I'm going to parrot some of Cunny Kenningham's comments here, but there really is no other choice. the Italians look a bit of a shambles.
When Ireland played them recently, they were down to 10 men inside a few minutes, so nothing concrete could be gleaned from the match.
But their 2 recent matches have shown them up.
They went 1 nil down to a poor USA side, and required a thunderbolt from Rossi to draw level. They then put the hurt on the US, who had been reduced to 10 men in the first half.

Last night, a handy, functional Egypt side, beat them one nil. Egypt started brightly, and caused Italy problems with their pace, and eventually scored a nice header from a corner after 40 minutes. To be fair to Italy, they did create some wonderful chances in the second half, but certainly didn't do enough to win the game.

Taking a step back, lets look at some of their squad. All through the team, there is the concern of age.
Grosso (31) - his time in France did him no favours, but still a quality left back.
Cannavaro (35) - he really is starting to creak a bit, much preferring a cynical foul to chasing a man.
Zambrotta (32) - formerly a thrilling attacking full-back, now looks a shadow of his former self.

Gattuso (31) - a player whom everybody likes, but doesn't have the legs of old days, so his influence is on the wane.
Camoranesi (32) - well, he was never really good in the first place, was he? Worse now.
Pirlo (30) - still a fine player, but his proposed retirement to Chelsea would be a big mistake for all concerned. As slow as me on a Monday morning.

Toni (32) - a big lummox, and his style has all but died out in modern football. Scorer of a sum total of no goals at the last WC. Finished.
Gilardino (26) - still only a youngster, but my god is he rubbish. Couldn't hack the pressure at Milan, having a better time at Fiorentina, but what exactly does he do?
Iaqunita (29) - a late bloomer at Udinese, now doing well at Juventus, but I have never seen him convince.

So that's all well and good, but what about the youngsters? Surely there is a well of talent coming through?


Let's have a look:
Inter's Davide Santon (18) is the only exciting prospect in defence. Various no-marks are making up the numbers - Dossena (wtf), Legrottaglie (32), Gamberini (27).

In midfield, Pepe (25) looks decent, but hardly exciting. De Rossi is only 25, and a quality player, but Roma are going a bit backwards, and he could do with a move.
Montolivo (24), could be promising in future, Palombo (27) is Gattuso-lite.

Up front, Rossi (22) looks to have the most potential, a terrific eye for goal, and a great long shot, a consistent scorer in Spain. But is he a bit powder puff for the modern game? Quagliarella (26) has been talked about in glowing terms the past few years, but his goal record is uninspiring, and I haven't seen him play well for Italy.

That's it. Seriously. Pretty depressing, eh?

But wait, who's in the U21 team or close to getting in the squad?

Barzaglia (28), Aquilani (24), D'Agostino (27), Brighi (28), Pazzini (24), Di Natale (31), Balotelli (18).

Hmm. Only Super Mario, Aquilani & Pazzini look to be decent shouts.

What is becoming clear is that Italy are one paced, are out of ideas, and have sparse talent coming through. The squad needs a shake up, but Lippi seems reluctant to inject youth and pace into the team. His formations are also horrible - Rossi as a lone striker? Quag on the right, Iaquinta on left? The one paced midfield trio? It's all a bit of a mess.

From a sporting point of view, lets hope that Italy get their house in order for next years World Cup, and provide a credible defence of their title. But, from a personal point of view, I hope it's after Ireland play them in the autumn.



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Anonymous said...

Luca Toni scored twice in the last WC! (In the quarter-final against Ukraine).

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bathmate said...

very good posting. i liked it. :-)