Prandelli’s Azzurri: Where are we now?

Cesare Prandelli has been coach of the Italian national team for precisely 100 days. So let’s ask the question: in this short time has he been able to bring us any closer to an expansive, more dynamic Azzurri?
Prandelli has given ample game-time to the Leonardo Bonucci/ Giorgio Chiellini partnership. Through no fault of the coach, this pairing has failed to catch fire at International level, showing bad positioning and communication against some of world football’s real minnows. However, now the two are starting to gel at club level, the Azzurri should start to reap the benefits of this mobile and talented duo.
That said, if Bonucci in particular shows poor form once again, recent call-up Andrea Ranocchia has the unbridled quality to become a permanent fixture in the starting XI. With Davide Astori and Daniele Gastaldello also itching for a start, Prandelli has begun to look to the next generation with customary open-mindedness – certainly setting him apart from Marcello Lippi, who clung to the old guard with palpable desperation.
At full-back position, Prandelli has also been willing to experiment, with his latest picks of Davide Santon and Federico Balzaretti answering the calls of thousands of fans who would like to see these intelligent and dynamic players a mainstay. These two athletic defenders will most certainly push higher up the field and allow Prandelli’s team to control possession and attack more effectively.
In goal, it’s fair to say whoever the boss opts for, he’ll only be warming the gloves for Gianluigi Buffon. That said, Bologna’s Emiliano Viviano has made great strides and shows remarkable confidence between the sticks. Moving on from Lippi’s choice – the nervy Federico Marchetti – Prandelli has found a valuable understudy.
With these call-ups in mind, for the first time in four years, Italy’s defence looks capable, solid and dangerous.
It is here, at the team’s heartbeat, where we have seen the most audacious experimentation from Prandelli. His first task, however, was to asses the veterans Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi. The former has been somewhat rejuvenated at international level, after appearing jaded and bored of the set-up for quite some time. De Rossi, on the other hand, is suffering his worst period to date for the Azzurri.
For this reason, it should be no surprise Prandelli has called upon the impressive Argentine-born Cristian Ledesma to try De Rossi’s defensive midfield shirt on for size. Continuing his open-door policy to all eligible players, Prandelli seems determined to simply find the best combination of those available to him.
Italy’s lack of natural wingers has seen the coach pick the extremely unpopular Simone Pepe for all but his most recent squad. The ex-Udinese man has arguably been the most ineffective, wasteful and disappointing of Prandelli’s first-teamers. However, the recent inclusion of genuine “ball players” Alberto Aquilani, Alessandro Diamanti and Stefano Mauri could hint the coach may moving toward playing a compact 4-1-3-2, opting for technically gifted central players over an alarmingly incompetent wide man.
The big news on this front is that Italy’s most talented player under Prandelli’s short reign thus far – Antonio Cassano – has been ruled out for the foreseeable future because of his ongoing club disputes.
What may assuage those fearful of a dip in mesmerising quality is the immediate inclusion of Mario Balotelli, finally back from injury. The Manchester City man is a unique talent with an ability to beat a man, poach a goal and create his own opportunities. As long as he can mix well within the camp and avoid indulging his great talent for making enemies, he should be a very positive force.
It is no secret Italy are short of real top class menace in attack, but that still leaves many baffled as to why the gaffer sticks with the frustratingly inconsistent Alberto Gilardino. To off-set criticism, Prandelli is showing long-earned faith in Villareal’s hot-to-trot Giuseppe Rossi – a player who may be able to fill the creativity gap left by Cassano.
With Giampaolo Pazzini and Fabio Quagliarella likely to remain on the fringes of the team, Prandelli has clearly shifted emphasis to a more flamboyant and “tricky” front-line.
Overall, with the inclusion of new players like Mattia Cassani, Andrea Rannocchia, Stefano Mauri, Alessandro Diamanti, Giuseppe Rossi and Mario Balotelli, Prandelli has brought a sense of youth and flair to his Azzurri. This approach is in stark contrast to Lippi’s series of tired and uninspiring selections.
It must be said whatever formation Lippi employed during his second spell in charge, the team appeared disconnected and unmotivated. Prandelli has encouraged a patently more fluid and mobile style of play. Critics will note this approach has had only limited success so far, but Azzurri fans – so disenchanted after four years of abject failure – would surely back the new coach in his pursuit of entertaining, effective football. Welcome Bonus Offer Betway

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