Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Ivory Coast 1-0 Italy

You can learn a lot from friendlies. Cesare Prandelli learnt that just because it's your fist game as national coach, in a non-competitive game held in rainy east London doesn't mean you won't get booed. More specific criticism will no doubt follow in tomorrows Gazzetta Dello Sport and Italy's various other sports papers.

Prandelli ought to ignore most criticism he receives though and, as a confident mature manager; no doubt will. His Italy side are out of match practice, have just been humiliated at the World Cup and have only had a couple of days training. Saying this though the side played well and the game proved relatively exciting considering most of the friendlies us football fans have to put up with. I'm not saying that the Ivory Coast didn't deserve to win (on balance they most probably did) but Italy created a number of half chances and looked good until faced with Daniel Yeboah in goal for the Elephants

This was the major problem that the Azzurri had and one they cannot afford against Estonia and the Faroe Islands when they face them in a few weeks time for Euro qualification. Whilst Cassano looked brilliant and at time unstoppable in the playmaker role for Italy he was let down by their lone striker Amauri who rarely got the better of Zokora.

Meanwhile Balotelli will also be disappointed with the way he played on his debut. Perhaps his mind is on somewhere further north in England but more likely he will not have relished his position on the left of attack and would probably have played better in the centre.

If Prandelli is to learn something constructive from this match against the Ivory Coast then it should be that Juve man Amauri is perhaps not the best person to play off the talented Cassano. If Balotelli is brought into this lone striker role as an alternative I predict he can link up better with Cassano in a 4-5-1 or even that fabled formation 4-6-0. If Cassano does now become the focal point of the Italian attack then Prandelli should certainly also consider making the successful Pazzini-Cassano partnership of Sampdoria a solution for the Azzurri. If you're unconvinced then just look below at how Cassano picks out Pazzini for Sampdoria's equaliser against Roma (from 2:20 on the video), a game that the Blucerchiati went on to win at the Stadio Olimpico thanks to another Pazzini goal that earned him man of the match.

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