Italian Football: How have the mighty fallen?
“Forza Azzurri”, ” i-ta-lia i-ta-lia”, these chants have been heard in all World Cups since 1958. However, we’ll be waiting five years or more to hear them again. Italy’s 1-0 aggregate loss to Sweden in the playoffs of Russia 2018 Qualifiers has sent shock waves down the spines of football fans all over the the world, however, this incidence is no coincidence. In fact, it is a manifestation of the failings of not just the coach, but the Administrators of Italian Football, Players and even the fans. How? Let’s take a look
The Impact of the Administrators on Italian Football
The Italians were so sure of qualifying that the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) unveiled its new logo with four stars on October 2, 2017, representing the country’s World Cup triumphs ahead of the 2018 finals in Russia. “The FIGC’s new visual identity completes a process of renewal that began three years ago, we look to the future by valuing our history,” said FIGC president Carlo Tavecchio.
“The new logo has made the four-star world triumphs more visible because they represent the pride of the whole country.”
The fact that Tavecchio is the President of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) says a lot about the administrative setup. He has been tried and convicted five times for offences such as forgery, tax evasion, falsification of reports and so on.
In 2014, he was banned by UEFA for racist remarks for six months.
“England identifies the subjects that come in, if they have the professionalism to get them to play, but we say that Opti Poba [a] came here, that before he ate bananas, now plays holder in Lazio and that’s okay. In England he must demonstrate its curriculum and its pedigree ….”
Yet, such a controversial figure is at the helm of affairs of Italian Football. He has even received support from the likes of Adriano Galliani and Franco Carraro, with the latter being a three-time President of the FIGC. Alongside Silvio Berlusconi, these men form the cabal in charge of Italian Football, and they must go.
Italian Football: Ventura’s Appointment a mistake
Italians play very tactical football, little wonder many top coaches in World Football are Italians. Carlo Ancelotti, Antonio Conte, Massimiliano Allegri are Italians, yet a certain Gian Piero Ventura was employed to succeed Conte as Italy head coach.
Ventura’s successes as a coach have being in Seria C and Seria D. He has won one Seria C and two Seria D titles, and it is not hard to see why he cracked under the pressure of coaching the Italian National team.
Ventura continued to experiment with formation and players throughout the qualifiers. He opted to play a 4-2-4 formation against Spain, without telling his players to launch balls to the four men upfront.
Ventura decided not to play Lorenzo Insigne throughout the second leg against Sweden, even when it was visible to the blind that he was their best hope of scoring.
Daniele De Rossi who along with Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Barzagli played his last match for the Italian National team, was visibly disgusted by Ventura’s decision to leave Insigne on the bench.
De Rossi is reported to have said “Why the hell should I go on? We don’t need to draw here, we need to win!”.
But De Rossi explained that it was nothing personal against Ventura.
“We have this tendency to warm up three at a time, then after five minutes we change and another three go,” he said. “I just said we were near the end and had to win, so send the strikers to warm up. I pointed to Insigne too. It wasn’t up to me whether it was a tactical issue. I’m sorry if I offended anyone. At the time I just thought perhaps it was better that Insigne come on instead.”
The Impact of Players and Fans
Once upon a time, Italy had the likes of Roberto Baggio, Luca Toni, Francesco Totti and the likes upfront. However, these days, Italy bank on the likes of Ciro Immobile, Manolo Gabbiadini and Eder to bang in the goals.
Star Player, Marco Veratti was suspended after needlessly collecting a yellow card in the first leg of the playoffs.
While other European teams can boast of promising young players, Italy can only point to Gianluigi Donnarumma. England won both the U-17 and U-20 World Cup this year; France have the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Thomas Lemar, Ousmane Dembele; Germany have Leroy Sane, Timo Werner, Julian Brandt.
Italian fans are quick to identify that the problem of English Football is in the fact that too many foreign players play in the EPL, while ignoring that this has also become the case in Seria A. Italy’s top teams Juventus, Lazio, Napoli, Roma average 2 Italian players in their starting XI.
Since 2006, it has been a downward slide for Italian Football. A complete overhaul must take place if we are to hear “Forza Azzurri”, ” i-ta-lia, i-ta-lia”.
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