Marcello Lippi won the hearts of millions of football fans across the world when his Italian side lifted the 2006 World Cup for the fourth time in its history. But, their 2010 World Cup campaign was not even the faintest shadow of the performance they had put up in the previous tournament. Italy finished fourth in the group and Lippi was subsequently sacked.
Italian Football at a national level was in threat and reviving lost glory was the main motive for the Italian Football Federation. The appointment of Cesare Prandelli was questioned by plaudits and critics alike. With the options like Felipe Scolari, Carlo Ancelotti and Fabio Capello available, it was widely believed that appointing Prandelli was a blunder.
The lesser known head coach demolished all odds stacked against him in the four years he had been in-charge. A manager who probably deserved to be counted with the likes of Luis Aragones and Vincente Del Bosque, made several tough decisions for the betterment of the Italian football team. Calm by nature and genius by mind, Prandelli has brought a renaissance not only in the way Italy play, but also in the way they approach the game.
Cesare, the brave-
Prandelli was open to all players and selected then on criteria of performance for their clubs. Previously, many Italian managers including Lippi were keen on fielding a team that had majority Italians. Foreign players with Italian citizenships were not given much priority, but Prandelli changed that. The inception of Mario Balotelli as the main striker was a brave decision. Considering the player’s bad attitude and mercurial nature of play, it must have been tough for the manager but, he has managed to get the best out of Balotelli.
Cesare, the innovator-
Italy’s catenaccio formation is always remembered for its defensive shape and exponential counter attacking trait. Prandelli has turned the tables completely. On several occasions he has used the 3-5-2 formation and made his team play some exceptional attractive football. His most reminiscent game using that formation was the 2013 Confederations Cup semi-final against Spain- a team that attacks, attacks and attacks. Prandelli used Christain Maggio as an aggressive wing-back and Giaccherini as a wide left forward, which seemed to be a stupid move by experts. But, the same exponent stretched the Spanish defence and limited them to stay deep and eliminate the ideo of possessing the ball high up the pitch.
Cesrae, the gambler-
There is a core foundation to the Italian national football team comprising of experienced and talented players. But, we get to see new faces whenever Italy is on the pitch. Prandelli is a gambler and it seems he always wins the gamble. Getting in new and unknown players like Candreva, Giaccherini , Mattia De Sciglio, Gabriel Paletta and many more creates competition amongst team-mates which eventually eggs them to perform better.
Cesare, the leader-
Prandelli is the boss of the dressing room. According to Gianluigi Buffon, the manager has won the dressing room and everybody respects him. A top decision maker and thinker, Prandelli certainly has the faith of his board and his players. Guiding the national team to the UEFA EURO Final against Spain was a massive step forward for Italy. A down and dusted team 2 years ago was led by this man to the pinnacle which confirmed that Italy was down but, never out.
Cesare, the decision maker-
Many experts have praised the balance that the Italian national team has in the upcoming FIFA World Cup. A mix of highly experienced war horses and energetic young talent is what Italy are all about in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The inclusions of De Sciglio, Immobile and Cerci has made it clear that merit is far essential than credentials for Prandelli. Though his decision of excluding the in-form striker Guiseppe Rossi raised some doubts over his team selection, the balanced side justifies otherwise.
Not many people believe that Italy can actually make a statement in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but numbers and momentum are in favour of the Azzuri. Moreover, a near perfect side and a wise manager is probably the perfect mix for a real shot at glory. With them surpassing England in their opening fixture, many believe the Azzurris might go the distance this year with Cesare Prandelli at the helm.