Italy

Teams /  Italy  / Italy 
Italy have 4,686 Fans
 
 
 
 
Cesare Prandelli looks to put smile back on face of Italian football
Paolo Bandini - 3 years ago

If this summer's World Cup was a chastening experience for Fabio Capello then he will at least know that he got off more lightly than his countrymen. England's 4-1 defeat to Germany may have been humiliating but Italy's exit at the group stage was, for the leading national newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, "the darkest and most terrible day in our football history". Never before had the country left a World Cup without a single victory. By achieving just two draws in Group F they had performed worse, even, than New Zealand.

The lone positive note for Italy was that they at least had an immediate succession plan in place. Cesare Prandelli had agreed before the tournament to replace Marcello Lippi as coach, and was duly unveiled on 2 July. From a symbolic standpoint, the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) could scarcely have chosen a better man. Prandelli may not have the medals ? as a manager his biggest achievement so far is winning Serie B ? but he does possess a warmth, openness and charm that make for a stark contrast with his predecessor.

Where Lippi's second tenure had come to be characterised by an us-against-them mentality in which questioning the manager would not be tolerated, Prandelli's stewardship was soon being referred to by journalists as L'Italia del sorriso ? the Italy of the smiles. Even after losing his first game in charge, a friendly against Ivory Coast in London, the manager remained upbeat. "For me the glass is half-full," said Prandelli, who takes his team to Windsor Park to play Northern Ireland tonight. "Lippi, too, lost his debut before going on to win the 2006 World Cup."

That Prandelli was capable of appealing to a disillusioned public had already been affirmed by his team selection for that friendly. Lippi insisted that the squad in South Africa was as good as it got for Italy, railing angrily that "I haven't left any champions at home", but Prandelli immediately summoned the one man the whole nation had been crying out for long before last summer: Antonio Cassano. In fact, he went as far as to say he planned to build his side around the forward.

Cassano rewarded such faith with a decisive performance in Prandelli's first competitive game in charge in the Euro 2012 qualifiers. Estonia are hardly fearsome opponents but had led after a goalkeeping blunder in Tallinn. The backheel flick with which Cassano set up Leonardo Bonucci's winner, after having himself scored the equaliser, exemplified an ability to think beyond the most obvious option that was sorely lacking in South Africa.

He was on the scoresheet again as Italy thrashed the Faroe Islands 5-0 in Florence, the Azzurri's biggest win since 1993. There, again, Prandelli's public relations value could be seen. The national side have been deeply unpopular in Florence for many years and in the past could expect to be heckled and abused by the home support. For this fixture the stadium remained half-empty, yet those who came received Italy and, in particular, Prandelli, fresh from five successful years as manager of Fiorentina, warmly.

But goodwill can only take you so far and Prandelli knows he has his work cut out. His team looked laboured for long stretches against Estonia and despite having already given first caps to eight players, including Mario Balotelli and the Brazilian-born striker Amauri, Prandelli has acknowledged the talent pool is not deep at all positions. After recalling Gianluca Zambrotta for the games against Northern Ireland and Serbia, he lamented his inability to find younger full-backs capable of displacing the 33-year-old.

There are reasons to be encouraged as well, though, not least in goal where the emergence of two immensely gifted youngsters ? Palermo's Salvatore Sirigu and Bologna's Emiliano Viviano ? has calmed anxieties about Gigi Buffon's absence through injury. The former Juventus playmaker Sebastian Giovinco had caught Prandelli's eye with a sparkling start to the season following his move to Parma, though his first cap will have to wait after he suffered a thigh strain last month.

Prandelli has talked of a future formation featuring Balotelli and Cassano behind a further striker, and it seems clear that he is a long way from having a settled first XI. But after Lippi's dogmatic commitment to the old guard who had helped him win in Germany, that in itself is most welcome.

This is not a news report and may contain views expressed by the author which are not supported by GNM.

Share your thoughts
Sign in to comment

Latest News, Blogs & Podcasts

Newspapers
 
Blogs
 
Podcasts
 
The Guardian - 4 days ago
Prandelli denied reports he has already signed a two-year extension to his contract, which originally ran until the end of the World Cup. "We haven't spoken about details, just that we will meet," he said. "This is an extraordinary message to Italian ...
... and replaced with technical director Attilo Perotti in January. Livorno are currently in the 19th position with 25 points, three behind Sassuolo and Bologna as they look to stay in Italy's top flight under Nicola with only four games remaining in ...
Forza Italian Football - 12 hours ago
“We're just 180 minutes away from fulfilling the dream of playing the final at home,” said the Italian international. “Therefore we must go to Lisbon and play as the strong Juventus side that we've proven to be in both Italy and Europe. “What counts ...
That would best describe the two matches played between Fiorentina and Hellas Verona this season, as both sides did their best to erase the defensive stereotypes associated with Italian football. After playing out to a 4-3 thriller way back on December ...
Goal.com - Yesterday
But the baggage which came with Icardi's performance and his brazen approach to the long-awaited head-to-head between he and love rival Maxi Lopez left a sour taste in many a football fan's mouth. News this week that Atletico Madrid are preparing a bid ...
Football Italia - 18 hours ago
“I keep my private life, the joy and the pain, to myself. It is not something I want to discuss publicly. All I'll say is that I am happy.” Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's ...
Forza Italian Football - 17 hours ago
The French international joined the Rossoneri on a loan deal in January from Spanish club Valencia. However he could be set for a €10 million move to David Moyes' side according to the Daily Mail. Since arriving in Italy Rami has started in 12 Serie A ...
Goal.com - 1 day ago
Mino Raiola has criticised Italian football for its lack of investment in stadia and youth systems, while he has blasted German football for its "amateur" sporting directors. In a lengthy interview with German publication 11Freunde, the well-known ...
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli is expected to outline the steps he will take to select his World Cup team for this summer's World Cup in Brazil in the coming weeks. Prandelli will have the 23 players on the World Cup squad announced by June 3, but ...
Football Italia - Yesterday
“I think in a career 90 per cent of it is hard work, hunger, desire and coming from the streets. Those who come from the streets rarely fall back down.” Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in ...

Latest Photo Galleries

World Cup 2010: Pictures of the decisive games in Groups E and F
3 years ago
The best images from the final matches in Groups E and F as Italy crashed out and Japan pipped Denmark
World Cup 2010: Italy v New Zealand
3 years ago
All the best pictures of Italy v New Zealand at the Mbombela Stadium
World Cup 2010: The best images from Italy v Paraguay and Japan v Cameroon
3 years ago
Pictures from of Italy's Group F opener against Paraguay and Japan's win over Cameroon in Group E
   
Kick4Life - changing lives through football