So the dust has settled and gradually the disappointment of Lippi’s failed return to the Azzurri turns to the future under popular ex-Fiorentina Coach Cesare Prandelli. With two relatively easy openers later this year in September away to Estonia and at home to the Faroe Islands, now is the perfect time to introduce the new era of the Nazionale.
Prandelli will have already picked out the pieces from Italy’s horror show in South Africa and now will be the time to freshen things up. The Golden boys of 2006 have long since seen their best days and the chances of a renaissance seem slightly remote. The Tactician have looked at the shambles of South Africa 2010 with a careful eye looking to see if there is a case of not throwing out the baby with the bath water. Despite three abject performances that clearly did not meet the level normally expected from the Azzurri, some players showed a glimpse towards Italy’s future.
With the former captain Fabio Cannavaro announcing his retirement, Prandelli has moved quickly to announce Gianluigi Buffon as his successor. However Buffon has just undergone surgery and will be out for 3 months so he will have to wait to take up his leadership role full time. However it would seem Buffon, when fit, will be the first name on Italy’s team sheet. Domenico Criscito was solid at the back for Italy and supported attack when he could. An interesting player that is easily able to play in a back four or further forward as a wing-back. Riccardo Montolivo, who was integral to Prandelli’s good work at Fiorentina, also impressed deputising for the injured Andrea Pirlo. He will look to continue what would appear an impressive midfield partnership with Daniele De Rossi. Again offering the option as “the two” in a 4-2-3-1 or even a midfield three where Claudio Marchisio evidently has a huge future.
Faith should also be shown towards Giorgio Chiellini and one would hope leadership and responsibility to organise his own defence will come now his mentor Cannavaro has vacated his role next to him. The search for a new partner could give the first opportunity to players such as Salvatore Bocchetti or Leonardo Bonucci. We were accustomed to seeing a 4-2-3-1 towards the end of Prandelli’s time in Florence with pace and width from the likes of Juan Manuel Vargas. Simone Pepe impressed in the wide areas at times and could be joined in the starting line-up by Fabio Quagliarella. He created a spark and a form of urgency and begged the question why his arrival in South Africa was so belated.
Perhaps calls will finally be answered for the controversial Antonio Cassano to re-enter the national side in the role of the trequartista. The possibility he could be flanked by Pepe and Quagliarella, would undoubtedly create more opportunities for Alberto Gilardino, who appeared somewhat isolated during South Africa. When you consider mercurial talents such as Sebastian Giovinco, Davide Santon and Mario Balotelli are yet to be fully introduced in to the national side, Prandelli has all the tools at his disposal to bring back success to the Azzurri.
Prandelli will immediately look to stop Italy tamely handing over the initiative in games. The FIGC have made a bold appointment but one which could reap many rewards should Prandelli be able to conjure up a blueprint to Italy’s renaissance based on the masterpiece he achieved at Fiorentina. “Mentre c’è vita, c’è speranza” (whilst there is life there is hope) goes the proverb, Italy certainly have more life in them yet, let the rebirth begin.