Bari’s performance against Inter on Saturday reaffirmed once again that Coach Giampiero Ventura’s young team is an example for all of Calcio.
For years Italian Coaches have believed that young talent needs to be carefully nurtured and protected before being put on the field. This has seen players like Giampaolo Pazzini having to warm the benches for a long time before getting their break in the first team. More recently, talented Italians like Giuseppe Rossi and Federico Macheda have decided to ply their trades in other countries to exhibit their skills. Sebastian Giovinco and Paolo De Ceglie are other victims of the rigid Italian system and have been on the fringes of the Juventus squad for over two years now. But now the whole Italian foster policy has been chucked out of the door by Bari and Ventura.
Bari’s display this season has been splendid for a side which won promotion to Serie A for the first time in nine years. This side – well known for grooming Antonio Cassano – has been founded on the platform of youngsters who have proved they have the quality to tough it out with the big boys. Ventura, who has spent much of his coaching career in the lower divisions, is used to extracting the best out of young fledglings. The average age of the side which took the field against Inter was only 25. Now this may not seem young for the rest of Europe, but in Italy where almost eight of the 11 players are over 28, this is indeed ground breaking.
The impressive feat for the team has been that the defensive unit, where most pundits deem experience to be vital, is formed almost entirely of youth players. Defender Andrea Ranocchia, 21, has been a revelation this season and along with Andrea Masiello, 23, has contributed massively to Bari’s brilliant defensive record. In fact the Galletti currently boast of having conceded the least goals in the league (along with Milan, Fiorentina and Inter). Vladimir Koman, the young Hungarian, has also given an excellent account of himself. Riccardo Meggiorini, an Inter reject, has proved to be solid in the middle of the park and came back to haunt his former side on Saturday. Even Barretto, who has scored regularly in his time at Bari for the past two years, was overlooked by teams after a disappointing spell at Udinese three years ago.
Ventura has never hesitated in throwing his youngsters into the thick of the action, and as Bari’s performances suggest they have not disappointed. The team is only three points off sixth placed Palermo, who occupy the last European spot. If the players can keep their good run going it would not be entirely surprising to see Ventura’s team battling for Europe come May. It is time that other Italian Coaches recognize that homegrown players need to be let out of their cocoons much quicker than is currently happening. As Bari have shown, the giovani are definitely ready to take up the helm.