By Gautam Sharma
The Vuvuzela, the Jabulani, and the darn Octopus... that kinda sums up the World Cup for us Azzurri fans. But the wretched cephalopod is not completely to blame for this misery, the pathetic excuse of the game displayed by Lippi and his lads did not exactly light up this World Cup for us... now as the sounds of the vuvuzela's start fading away like a distant nightmare, key question arises... where to from here, o beloved Azzurri?
Prandelli, now thats a great start to the revolution. He is a brilliant tactician, a complete gentleman, great with youngsters, and has very clear ideas about the kind of game he likes to play. His teams are usually the most fun to watch in Italian peninsula, Fiorentina's run in the last Champions League a good example of his style. Now that Italy do not have the great defenders of old, perhaps a less pragmatic approach championed by Prandelli is just what is needed.
So where does Prandelli start from? Lets start with the existing squad to see if Prandelli can find a skeleton for his team.... the ones in bold I hope are the only ones Prandelli has in his consideration set:
Italy World Cup 2010 Squad:
Goal Keepers: Buffon (Juventus), De Sanctis (Napoli), Marchetti (Cagliari)
Defenders: Bocchetti (Genoa), Bonucci (Juventus), Cannavaro (Juventus), Chiellini (Juventus), Criscito (Genoa), Maggio (Napoli), Zambrotta (Milan);
Midfielders: Camoranesi (Juventus), De Rossi (Roma), Gattuso (Milan), Marchisio (Juventus), Montolivo (Fiorentina), Palombo (Sampdoria), Pepe (Juventus), Pirlo (Milan);
Strikers: Di Natale (Udinese), Gilardino (Fiorentina), Iaquinta (Juventus), Pazzini (Sampdoria), Quagliarella (Napoli),
IMO the rest are either too old, or just not good enough to play for the Azzurri. That said, IMO Prandelli needs to retain the existing "spine" of the team, and start building around it:
Azzurri Spine = Buffon-Chiellini-De Rossi-Pirlo
Prandelli sould rebuild around that basic spine, coz changing everything would be just plain stupid.
Other players in Consideration set:
Goalkeepers: Sirigu, Abbiati, Storari
Sirigu IMO is the real successor to Buffon. I am afraid the likes of Amelia and Marchetti is just pretenders to the throne, tho the later could become quite competent. Since Buffon is out with injury, perhaps Abbiati or Storari could fill up the gap with their experience temporarily.
Defence: Gamberini, Ranocchia, Santacroce, Motta, Santon, Cassani, De Ceglie, Di Silvestri
Prandelli will surely bring in Gamberini, but I hope he also gives some chances to youngsters... this is the area where Italy needs most of the revolution. I would hope that by 2012, Italy has Chiellini + Gamberini + 2 youngsters with decent international exposure as CB's... It could be any of Bonucci, Ranocchia, Santacroce, etc. And there are a lot of promising young fullbacks, I hope all 3-4 of them in the 2012 squad come from this crop with some international experience in the legs by that time. Santon, Motta, De Silvestre, Criscito & De Ceglie look the most promising to me. The likes of Maggio and Cassani could help out in the short term till Euro 2012.
Midfield: Aquilani, D'Agostino, Candreva, Marchionni, Cigarini, Poli, Rosina, Giovinco...
There is a decent bunch of new talent available here, on top of a decent nucleus from Lippi's side for Prandelli to build on... Assuming Prandelli goes with his usual 4231 formation, the 2 man central midfield will not be too much of a worry. Wingers will be more difficult to find, but then some of teh strikers could easily play that role.
Strikers: Balotelli, Cassano, Miccoli, Rossi, Foggia, Okaka...
There is decent talent to work with for the creative striker and the 2 wingers behind the centre forward... the kind of talent that Lippi ignored, and the kind of talent that Prandelli likes.... this is the main advantage of having someone like Prandelli as coach with his refreshing attitude to football.
I am really looking forward to Italy playing the Prandelli brand of football, keeping the possession and attacking. I am not sure this Italy will win anything.... probably not... but it will be a good rebuilding exercise, that I am quite confident of.... and thats exactly what Italy needs right now... a coach who builds for the future without worrying too much about present success... the silverware will follow later.