Italian WC Hopes Hang On Cesare Prandelli’s Choice Of Firepower

With  a  solid  spine  in  defence  and  midfield , Italian  coach  Cesare  Prandelli  faces  tough  calls  up  front  with  his  team  selection.

Prandelli’s  Italy  team  reached  the  final  of  Euro  2012 , only  to  be  demolished  by  arguably  the  greatest  international  team  of  all  time. Italy  still  have  that  same  strong  core  , built  around  the  remaining  veterans  of  the  2006  World  Cup  triumph.

Gianluigi  Buffon , now  36 , is  still  between  the  sticks  and  has  shown  no  signs  of  letting  his  enormous  standards  slip. It  has  long  been  a  mantra  of  Italian  national  football  success  that  a  strong   Juventus  means  a  strong  Italy  and  Prandelli  can  call  on  the  same  defensive  line  that  just  achieved  a  third  straight  Scudetto  for  Antonio  Conte’s  side.

In  front  of  Buffon  should  be – assuming  Prandelli  stays  with  his  customary  back  three – Andrea  Barzagli , Giorgio  Chiellini  and  Leonardo  Bonucci. Milan’s  young  gun  Mattia  De  Sciglio  should  play  on  the  right.

There  is  just  as  much  strength  and  quality  in  the  engine  room. The  great  Andrea  Pirlo  is  still  there,  pulling  the  strings  from  his  deep-lying  playmaker  role. He  will  ably  aided  by  the  gritty  Danielle  De  Rossi  and  Thiago  Motta , the  Brazilian-born  midfielder.

Motta’s  PSG  teammate  Marco  Verratti  is  a  serious  young  talent  that  Prandelli  can  also  call  upon  if  selected  in  the  23  man  squad. So  far , so  good  but  experience , strength  and  skill  are  not  enough  to  triumph  at  a  World  Cup. Great  teams  need  pace  and  goals  and  it  is  up  front  where  the  last  big  calls  need  to  be  made.

Aside  from  talented  winger  Alessio  Cerci , Prandelli  has  six  attacking  players  competing  for  what  will  be  most  likely  four  places  in  the  final  squad , and  0ne  or  two  in  the  starting  XI. If  he  chooses  correctly  from  the  following  high-profile  names  it  could  be  the  difference  between  a  long  run  through  the  World  Cup  and  an  early  exit  from  the  so-called  group  of  death  with  Uruguay,  England  and  Costa  Rica.


 

Mario  Balotelli 

The  controversial  former  Manchester  City  man  will  be  at  the  front  of  the  queue , a  guaranteed  pick  for  the  squad  and  the  likeliest  man  to  lead  the  line. Balotelli  was  Italy’s  star  that  came  of  age  at  Euro  2012 , producing  the  performance  of  a  lifetime  in  the  2-0  semi-final  win  over  Germany , in  which  he  scored  both  goals.

Since  then  though , he  has  failed  to  push  on  and  become  the  regular  top-level  striker  that  many  had  hoped. Despite  16  goals  for  Milan  this  season  , which  was  plagued  by  injuries  for  periods,  it  felt  like  an  underwhelming  season  after  a  great  spell  when  he  first  joined  from  Manchester  City. However , Balotelli  can  still  produce  the  unexpected  and  things  that  nobody  else  can  stop , and  that  can  be  the  difference  in  a  major  tournament  like  the  World  Cup.

_____

Antonio  Cassano

It  says  a  lot  about  the  experience  of  Italy’s  front  line  that  with  no  more  Antonio  di  Natale , Francesco  Totti  or  Alessandro  Del  Piero – that  Cassano  is  the  wise  old  head  of  the  Italian  forward  contingent.

The  31-year-old  has  just  produced  his  best  season  in  years , helping  to  drag  Parma  up  to  sixth  in  Serie  A. He  has  lost  weight  and  is  fitter  than  ever , meaning  that  Prandelli’s  high  standards  for  physical  conditioning  will  not  him  rule  out  from  making  the  final  squad.

Like  Balotelli , he  is  a  controversial  character  and  somewhat  of  a  wild  card , but  their  partnership  worked  nicely  in  2012  so  why  not  again  on  the  biggest  stage  of  them  all?

_____

Ciro  Immobile

The  story  of  the  season  in  Italy  and  the  man  who  has  earned  his  spot  more  than  any  other  on  the  plane  to  Brazil. Ciro  Immobile  was  the  Serie  A’s  top  scorer  with  22  goals  for  Torino  and  is  close  to  an  £18  million  move  to  replace  Bayern-bound  Robert  Lewandowski  at  Borussia  Dortmund.

Immobile  is  a  perfect  fit  for  Italian  national  team  as  he  is  fast , energetic  and  hard-working , dangerous  on  the  break , always  willing  to  run  in  behind  or  to  sacrifice  himself  for  the  team. Like  a  few  of  Italy’s  options  up  front  though , he  is  unproven  at  the  top  level  in  European  or  international  football , as  he  has  only  really  emerged  this  season. But  his  great  form  this  season  and  the  alternative  threat  he  poses  should  see  him  make  the  cut  for  Brazil  and  maybe  even  start  alongside  Balotelli  up  top  at  the  World  Cup.

_____

Lorenzo  Insigne : 

Insigne  of  Napoli  has  the  talent  and  nerve  to  make  a  difference  in  Brazil. Macedonian  captain  and  Napoli  teammate  Goran  Pandev  once  referred  to  him  as  the  “Italian  Messi” , which  may  be  completely  exaggerated  but  the  22-year-old  starlet  clearly  has  talent  and  was  a  huge  hit  at  the  Euro  Under-21  championships  last  year  for  Italy.

A  stocky , spiky  forward  who  can  play  anywhere  in  a  front  three , Insigne  has  become  an  important  component  of  Rafael  Benitez’s  side  this  season , scoring  twice  in  their  Coppa  Italia  triumph  over  Fiorentina.

Not  particularly  consistent  or  reliable  though , he  is  still  very  able  to  produce  the  unexpected  just like  Balotelli  or  Cassano , which  is  exactly  what  Italy  will  need  at  the  World  Cup.

Tadhg  Creedon , Pundit  Arena. 

Featured Image By redazione di iamnaples.it, Editore: Francesco Cortese – Direttore responsabile: Ciro Troise (www.iamnaples.it) [CC-BY-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons.

 

 

Read More About: , , , , , ,

Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.