Do Prandelli’s young Azzurri need old heads on their shoulders?

After Italy crashed to a 2-0 friendly defeat against Ireland in Liege tonight, questions are again being asked of the Prandelli project. Despite keeping the ball well the Azzurri lacked the precision to make any telling moves in the final third and thus appeared toothless for the majority of the game. Giuseppe Rossi looked dangerous until he was withdrawn at half time, but between them Alessandro Matri, Riccardo Montolivo, Giampaolo Pazzini, Alberto Gilardino and Sebastian Giovinco were unable to carve out any meaningful opportunities.

An interesting solution to this lack of cutting edge up front was inadvertently proposed by Cesare Prandelli before the game against Ireland when he offered veteran attackers Alessandro Del Piero and Francesco Totti a way back into the squad for Euro 2012. In a press conference, Prandelli said, “If from next February Totti and Del Piero show they have the condition of a month ago then I will surely consider them.”

It is an interesting change of tune from Prandelli who claimed at the start of his reign that he would focus on bringing younger players into the squad rather than relying on old legs to carry his team. However, the naïveté and inexperience shown by his front line and the failures of all his attempts to find an effective trequartista have lead the Coach to reconsider the futures of the two legendary forwards.

By the time Euro 2012 comes around Totti and Del Piero will be 35 and 37 respectively but both possess an enduring ability to win games almost single handed. Despite Totti not having played for Italy since 2006 and Del Piero since 2008, both would bring with them a wealth of experience the likes of which only Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Pirlo can rival in the current Azzurri set up.

The inclusion of Totti is arguably more likely than that of Del Piero as the Roma captain is younger and started almost twice as many games as his Juventus counterpart this season. Should that record continue into the new season and the goals continue to flow, Totti could be the ideal solution for Prandelli at trequartista. Although he is often at his most dangerous for Roma playing as a lone front man with support from midfield, he has formed a potent partnership with Antonio Cassano in the past and would certainly provide the likes of Giuseppe Rossi and Mario Balotelli with plenty of service.

More than anything, both players would bring an experienced head to the attacking line just as Buffon and Pirlo do in midfield and defence. While the decision would, to some, represent a step backwards, it would not necessarily mean Prandelli was going back on his promise to look towards younger players. The likes of Rossi and Balotelli would still play a vital role in the Azzurri side but would do so under the guidance of an old head on the field and la Nazionale would benefit not only from the exuberance of youth but also from the know-how that come with age.

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