Pazzini needs to end Azzurri goal drought

After Italy’s 1-0 victory away to Slovenia on Friday evening, Coach Cesare Prandelli stated that he would make changes to the line-up in an attempt to evaluate the rest of the squad at his disposal. Monday’s press conference confirmed there would be seven in total, and that Giampaolo Pazzini would be one of those out of the team. For the Inter striker, it could not really come at a worse time for his international career.
Pazzini is a player who has been under the spotlight since the Italy squad convened at Coverciano last week. He has failed to score for Italy since his debut in 2009 – a 2010 World Cup qualifying match against Montenegro. Two years have passed, 15 more caps have been gained, eight of them from the first minute (one of which was the abandoned match against Serbia), but not a single goal has been added to his tally. It is not a goals-to-games ratio of an individual who is supposedly Italy’s leading prima punta at this moment, and it is something Pazzini needs to alter quickly if he is to keep his place in the team.
In many ways, he is fortunate to have age on his side – at only 26 he has plenty of years left to show he can perform at international level, and will surely get more chances to do so. Had he been a few years older, it may be a different story. One look at Antonio Di Natale and he will see what effect age can have. The Udinese man has scored more than double the number of goals in Serie A this season compared to Pazzini, and has managed 10 goals for Italy too in his career, yet is largely ignored because at 33 he is barely an option for Euro 2012, let alone the World Cup in 2014.
Regardless of Pazzini’s age and Di Natale’s exclusion, he still has plenty of competition for the role, and if a goal is not forthcoming soon he will find himself replaced. Alberto Gilardino, bizarrely overlooked in general by Prandelli despite a similar strike rate to Pazzini for his club this season – 10 goals in 28 appearances, compared to Pazzini’s 12 in 29 – is one of those who may get his chance against Ukraine on Tuesday evening. He has already demonstrated an ability to score at this level, with 17 goals in 45 caps, which perhaps makes it even stranger that he has not had more chances over a player who cannot find the net.
Alessandro Matri has continued his Cagliari form at a bigger club, and is starting to loom large in the background. And there is, of course, Mario Balotelli. Prandelli has already spoken of his intention to build his side around the talented forward, and it may be that Pazzini is benefitting at the moment from the youngster’s inability to perform consistently for his club.
It all makes the changes to the starting XI for the match against Ukraine a bit of a problem for Pazzini. If Gilardino, his replacement for the game, takes his chance and scores, or even if Italy looks better offensively, he may well find himself behind the eight ball when it comes to selection. An Azzurri goal in the near future will ensure he at least keeps up with it. Welcome Bonus Offer Betway

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