In a similar vein to the defence, the midfield offers ample choice for the central roles and a blank when it comes to the lateral players. But while the shuffle of full-backs is only a matter of pecking-order uncertainties, the absence of wingers represents a genuine crisis in the sector. This lack of flanking midfielders, along with an abundance of forwards, have convinced Prandelli that a best formation involves three forwards backed by three midfielders. The composition of the midfield trio would then plausibly be as follows: one regista to direct play, one mediano to close opposition spaces, and one all-round player with a lot of breath, capable of taking care of a multitude of different tasks. There are several combinations of athletes that could fulfil these requirements, and finding the best three men among them is a crucial challenge for Prandelli.
Alessio Cerci (Fiorentina)
Description: A highly skilled but frequently boisterous and over-confident young assist-man, Cerci is one of the few genuine prospects who shows skill as a winger. He is not shining at Fiorentina, partly as a consequence of the team’s general great depression, but his technique and aggressiveness are considerable. If he finally matures, he could become an asset by 2014.
Emanuele Giaccherini (Cesena)
Description: Had an explosive start to the season, where his pace and direct running led to rumours of a call-up to the Azzurri. His form has since died down, and he appears to have been ‘found out’ by many Serie A defenders. Needs to develop more strings to his bow to impress Prandelli.
Stefano Guberti (Sampdoria)
Description: A solid, traditional left-wing with good crossing skills. A member of a dying breed, but Prandelli seems disinclined to make use of wingers, so there may be little space for Guberti.
Marco Marchionni (Fiorentina)
Description: Mentioned here for being one of the few options Italy has for wingers. Old and unexceptional, he is one of the most unlikely players on this list to wear the blue.
Raffaele Palladino (Parma)
Description: In perspective, one of the most interesting options currently available for the wing, though perhaps he should be classed as a striker. Palladino’s defection from Juventus to Genoa turned him into a considerably effective offensive player, but he has been struggling to start at Parma (mainly as a result of having some serious competition). A humbler player than he was before, Palladino is fast and technically ductile, but he lacks austerity and termination skills under the net.
Simone Pepe (Juventus)
Description: One of the most consistently called-up wingers in the Italian national team, but mostly an underperformer. Pepe has a lot of fuel in his legs, but he is wanting in class and precision. His inconsistency may be part of the reason why Prandelli has discarded the option of a wing-based formation.