The shambolic and catastrophic demise of italy in this years confederations cup is confirmation of many things. They are relying on older players, they are scared of youth and they cannot play the same defensive way as they have.
Italy has a great footballing history, they are giants of the game, and along with Brazil are arguably the most successful national team in the world. So where has it all gone wrong. Well, lets not forget that they are the current world champions, however they won that tournament with a nucleus of players in their prime. The majority of that team was between 28 and 32, a footballers peak, that was many had worked for all there careers.
Gattuso faced a lot of injures for AC Milan
Not many of that core would have expected to still be involved in the set up 3 years later. Gattuso was instrumental in that team, running round chasing everything, breaking up play, winning the ball. He must have done more running in that tournament than paula radcliffe has done throughout her career. But now his legs and body are catching up with him. He was injured a lot for AC milan last season yet still managed to get into the squad. Surely there is a better, younger nippier version coming in from the youth.
And that therein lies italy’s major problem. They seem too scared to move forward. The one thing they lack above all else in there squad is pace. Pace is now an absolute neccessity in this day and age. If your team lacks pace, you will not create problems, and you have to wonder how many players in the italian squad have genuine pace to beat a man. Luca toni, no. Iaquatina, no. Cannavaro, no. Pirlo, no. Just 4 players there that have played in the confederations cup and not performed.
Compare that to Brazil with pace al over the team, Maicon driving down the right absolutely destroyed italy, Luis fabiano, robinho and Kaka had a field day against them. All these players not only had pace but creativity, something that has lacked i the italian team since totti retired. If you look at the top teams in the world they have players with pace and creativity. Rooney, Ronaldo, Messi, Kaka, Gerarrd, Iniesta, Robben. Italy cannot play the defensive way, the patient way any more. They are used to passig the ball effortlessly and then finding their 1 or 2 players of creativity and rely on them to make something happen. However Totti has long retired, and Del piero is not the player of 5 years ago.
So what do they do.
If Lippi insists on playing the same way he has throughout his career he needs a drastic change. OUT should go Toni, iaquinta, Gattuso, Zambrotta, Dossena, cannavaro and pepe to name a few. These players are not international standard, especially not world beaters. He has a great young team coming through if he cared to look.
Players like Balotelli and Davide santon are excellent prospects and this competition would ave given them invaluable exeprience of top level football, instead of shipping them off to the U-21s. They also possess great pace, which would give their game a new dimension. Other players to bring in, Cassano, D’Agostino, Giovinco, Criscito, Amauri, Santacroce and Aquafresca. Players who have been playing alongside many of the current national side for their respective club teams, they have a lot of experience.
Antonio Cassano – Italy
In Cassano they could have a world beater, if he has the right guidance and he has his ego boosted every once and a while. There is no doubt if Cassano fulfilled his potential he could be as good as Kaka, and he could become Italys talisman. Their midfield could consist of Pirlo and De Rossi holding and let Cassano and giovinco bomb on from the midfield. Support down the right from Santon, supplying crosses for for Pepe Rossi and Amauri. If things weren’t going well, brig on Balotelli to inject pace and cause trouble. You could even take off a holding midfielder and throw another creative player on (D’Agostino), safe in the knowledge that your defenders in the shape of Criscito and Chiellini have enough pace and abilty to cover.
In bringing in the youth Italy would have a chance next year, however Lippi may have left it too late to bring them in and give them enough time to adapt. He needs a new creative player, he needs pace throughout his team, he needs to remove the deadwood, he needs to bring Italian football into the 21st century.