As part of our World Cup coverage, we have interviewed journalists, correspondents, experts & writers representing each of the 32 countries to give you, the readers, a better understanding of the 32 nations participating in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Here are the list of interviewees.
For this interview, focusing on Italy, we spoke to Fabrizio Romano. He’s a journalist with SkySports24, Goal Italia, Gianluca Di Marzio and Stretty News. Follow him on Twitter @FabrizioRomano
Prandelli is faced with an interesting conundrum up front, Ciro Immobile has had an incredible season, but Mario Balotelli demands a starting berth. It’s hard to ignore Cerci too. What will the boss do upfront?
Is not easy to say now what Cesare Prandelli will do. But for sure, it’s an incredible situation of abundance: I think that Lorenzo Insigne may not play as big a role in the national team at the World Cup, but Immobile and Balotelli will certainly have an important role to play.
Critics allege that this Italy defence is a bit soft, with doubts being cast over the likes of Bonucci. Is this a fair assessment? Or can the Azzurri depend on their usual defensive core?
I think this is not true. Italy has a good defence, in my opinion: Buffon is always a fantastic goalkeeper, Bonucci with Barzagli and Chiellini, is doing something wonderful with Juventus. Some criticism for the full-backs is just. But in my opinion, Italy’s defence is better than many others, like Argentina’s.
MORE READING | Analysing Italy’s Tactical approach, set-up & formation
Italy are undoubtedly strong in the middle, but the wide men look a little weak, with the likes of Candreva possibly not at the level of some others in the competition. Does this make the attack a little one dimensional?
I think yes. Candreva and Cerci can be a good resource, but not up to the level of other players present, that can win important games at the World Cup by themselves.
Italy had it as easy as they could have imagined it four years back in South Africa, but the failure at that World Cup will haunt the players in Brazil. Now they find themselves sitting in a group with two other teams who expect themselves to progress. What sort of pressure could the failure of 2010 and the difficulty of the group do to Prandelli’s men?
For sure, the group is really difficult. There’s Uruguay who has two of the best strikers in the World in Cavani and Luis Suarez, England too in my opinion are at the same level as Italy. So, it will be really difficult to go on. But the pressure from 2010 – in my opinion – will not be a real problem: this is a new team, with a new manager and many new players. This group made it to the final of Euro 2012 beating important teams as Germany and England, so I think they are ready to give their best in Brazil.
Despite attempts to promote younger players, the national team & the domestic game remain over-reliant on the older players. A disappointing failure at the system, but can the experience in the core of the side actually make the difference?
I think there are some some good young players like Marco Verratti, Mattia De Sciglio, Ciro Immobile, Mario Balotelli too. It’s not easy to give the National team young and players who are ready for a World Cup, also because the experience of players like Buffon, Chiellini, De Rossi is something really important when you play a WC. I think Italy is working well now, having a good mix.
We at Outside of the Boot track the progress of youngsters under our Talent Radar feature. Our focus is thus on Marco Verratti. Can the PSG midfielder come into the side, if called upon, and adequately replace Andrea Pirlo?
In my opinion, absolutely yes. Marco probably will not start in this World Cup because in Prandelli’s mind the midfield will be with Thiago Motta, Pirlo and De Rossi. But for the future, he will be the new Andrea Pirlo. He’s a special player, he shows the maturity of a ready player and the quality of an absolute talent. With leadership too. Fantastic.
Taking all factors into consideration, can you see Italy getting past the group stage and how much further can they realistically go? Are they contenders? Or was the Euro 2012 showing a rare occurrence?
For me, it is really difficult to say that Italy is a contender for WC. But I think they can get past the group stage and it’s anyone’s guess, as they will take it one match at a time. It will not be easy, but they can have a good World Cup.