Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

guest writer/Frank Tigani

This week the Azzurri recorded a highly impressive victory over reigning World and European Champions Spain. Sure, it may have just been a friendly, however, considering the strength of the two line ups it was clear that neither Cesare Prandelli nor Vicente del Bosque took to the contest lightly.

The Azzurri’s triumph in Bari was a statement of intent that this Italian team is back. South Africa is now a long time ago and since then, under Prandelli’s guidance, Italy have been improving markedly while playing an entertaining brand of football not normally associated with the game of Calcio.

To a large extent, the Italians beat the Spaniards at their own game, which is no easy feat. They harried Spain from the front, forcing them into uncharacteristic mistakes while their play was incisive and sharp.

It was a positive night all round for Italian football with the win being accompanied by a united and boisterous home crowd that in this 150th anniversary of Italian reunification was an all too rare a glimpse of true Italian nationhood. On the field, the Azzurri exemplified a united outfit too as their neat passing game along with their great understanding attested to.

Another real positive for the Azzurri was the apparent depth in the side. Antonio Cassano and Giuseppe Rossi started as the front strike pair, but, in reserve Prandelli was able to call upon Mario Balotelli, who was unlucky not to score, and Giampaolo Pazzini. The likes of Alessandro Matri and Fabio Quagliarella will undoubtedly be pushing for a return to the national set up, hence, suffice to say the Azzurri are seem well equipped in this area.

In midfield too, the Italian boss has plenty of options. Claudio Marchisio did not play on the night, but, he remains a strong candidate for a first team place while Alberto Aquilani will have done his Azzurri chances – or his chances of securing a move back to the Serie A – no harm with his match winning goal. These two players will have to fight with starters on the night Thiago Motta, Daniele De Rossi and Riccardo Montolivo for the midfield spots which make for a capable group of players at Prandelli’s disposal.

One player whose presence in the middle of the park is all but sure is that of Andrea Pirlo. The former Milan star remains a player of world class quality and against the might of Spain it was he that dictated the game from the centre using all his experience and ability.

Domenico Criscito and Christian Maggio carried out their roles with a self belief that is fast becoming apparent across the field amongst this new look Azzurri side. With Frederico Balzaretti, Mattia Cassani and possibly Ignazio Abate as other options all of a sudden Italy have some depth in numbers in most areas perhaps aside from central defence.

Much of this is due to the great work of Prandelli who has not been shy – unlike his predecessor – to blood new players and give them the experience needed to play at this level.

The story of the night, however, was Bari born Antonio Cassano. He may not have scored, though he should have, but he did put in a stellar display. Evidently a few pounds lighter, the former Real Madrid striker proved to be a real thorn for Spain at the back. And what a lovely gesture it was by Gianluigi Buffon to give him the chance to captain his country in front of his home crowd. He seemed to enjoy the moment too and quite rightly.

This victory has signaled the Azzurri are on their way back and it is an Azzurri that contradicts much of what is perceived about the Italian game. Instead of boring, defensive and slow, all three common criticisms of calcio, this Italian side play a brave, attacking and ultimately entertaining game. Admittedly they are still some way off the finished product, but time is enough for these matters to be resolved before the European Championships commence.

3 Responses so far.

  1. diavolo says:

    semi finals of the euro’s. i know we will get there, i don’t know if any further. but definitely our minimum FORZA!

  2. Frank says:

    I think semi finals is a real possibility. But hey, if Greece won Euro 2004, this team should definitely be aiming to win it.

  3. Zeman says:

    I agree with everything that was written. Our NT is still far to be competitive but at least it isnt slow and boring as the previous one. Hopefully Ranocchia and the other young guys will keep improving.

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