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miércoles, 7 de mayo de 2008

EURO 2008: ITALY (This article is available in English and Español)

One of the top favourites to win the European Championship is Italy, the current world champion, since, as it has in every important tournament, Italy presents a very competitive team with top players, who have a perfect winning mentality to play this kind of tournament, being virtually an unbeatable team in these championships.
Roberto Donadoni, after a hesitant start as the Italian National team´s coach, has gradually built a strong team, both with a good defensive system (if we exclude the game against France in the qualifying round for Euro 08, Italy received only 6 goals in 14 games) and with a strong offensive play (Donadoni relies on excellent forward, as we will see later).

Obviously one of the reasons, that it is difficult to score a goal when you play against Italy, is because Italy has good goalkeepers, having the best goalkeeper in the world, Gianluigi Buffon, who is in his best moment to play a “big” tournament, since he is 30 year´s old and he has an important experience with 13 seasons as sport´s professional ( he has shown during these season all his qualities: secure, with reflexes, good in face to face and in corners and in free-kicks, with a strong winning mentality and with command´s mentality. In short, he is a leader and Italy is lucky with him, because he guarantees a lot of points and victories during a championship. There is no doubt that Buffon will be the goalkeeper of the team, but in case that he have an injury´s problem, Donadoni can also count on good substitutes as the young Marco Amelia (we assume that he will change Livorno for other stronger team this summer) or Sevilla´s Morgan De Sanctis (he is good goalkeeper although he has not had too many chances this season in Sevilla FC).

Buffon's work is facilitated by the fact that he is very well protected by very veteran and experienced defenders as the central defender Fabio Cannavaro (this year we have finally seen a correct Cannavaro at Real Madrid, although he plays better when he is in “Nazionale”, where he has a lo of trust) or the powerful and hard Marco Materazzi, who is playing this season with more control and he has received only 3 yellow cards in 21 Italian Serie A´s games. Besides, Donadoni will have other excellent central defenders as the young US Palermo´s defender Andrea Barzagli-he has played 20 games with the Italian National team and he sounds as a player of teams like Inter and Bayern Munich -or the veteran Christian Panucci, who despite his 35 year´s old, he is playing with a good level both as right back and as central defender, scoring important goals this season as in the decisive game between Italy and Scotland.
So, Italy has excellent central defenders, instead we can not say the same thing of the transalpine backs, because the right back Massimo Oddo is technically a limited player, he works correctly but it is not enough to play in the world champion.We can say the same thing about Gianluca Zambrotta, who played horrible last 2 years in FC Barcelona- he is playing without confidence and freshness and he has committed too many mistakes (for example Manchester United scored the decisive goal in the Champions League´s semi-final thanks to an absurd Zambrotta´s loss in the midfield´s zone) -. The same can be said of the left backs, because on the one hand, Giorgio Chiellini is not a bad player, but he still needs improvement (he is only 23 year´s old, we think that he needs 3-4 more seasons to be a key player) and on the other hand, Fabio Grosso has not finished to fit in the French Championship and we can say that he is disappointing a bit in his Olympique Lyon´s period. Anyway I do not know very well why, but these players, when the EURO arrives, have a transformation and they are very competitive players. Nevertheless, although they have a transformation during the EURO, we think that the backs are the worst line of the team and the rival teams should attack and push these lines if they want to defeat the Italian team.

The midfield is also, as the central defender line, a very solid line which is led by the AC Milan´s midfielders: the powerful Gennaro Gattuso-he has an important implication with the team and to watch his play is a pure show –and Massimo Ambrosini-he is a dangerous player for the rival teams when there is a strategic´s play-in the destruction function, and the elegant Andrea Pirlo-he is an excellent player for the free-kicks-in the construction of the Italian game (these 3 players are, along with Kaka , Alexandre Pato and Inzaghi, the exceptions in a disastrous AC Milan's season). Along with the "rossoneri trio” we will see possibly the worker and always dangerous Mauro Camoranesi (footballer who has a good arrival, assisting and scoring a good number of goals each season). Besides, we will see in the Italian bench good players like the Roma ´s midfielders: Daniele De Rossi- this player sounds as Real Madrid and FC Barcelona´s new player and perhaps he has a drawback, since he plays with hardness and he see a lot card, which is dangerous in this kind of tournament, because if a team play with 10 players during a match, it's easy to lose this game and therefore to have many difficulties in order to play the next round of the competition-, the smart Alberto Aquilani-player with good shot-and the versatile Simone Perrota, who can play both as a defensive midfielder (this is his best position for me)and as offensive midfielder, assisting and scoring a goals.

Finally we will refer to the strikers´line, where we think that Roberto Donadoni will have many doubts to make the call, because there are a lot of candidates in order to play the EURO and of course there is not place in the squad for all of them. If we look at the last games, we think that we will see in the squad the formidable Luca Toni- as we said in another article of this blog, he is a guarantee to score goals and it does not matter if he plays in Italy or in Germany, he always scores and for example he scored 41 goals and he made 12 assits in 50 games this season-and the smart player Antonio Di Natale-he has a lot of mobility and individual quality and this season he has scored 17 goals and has made 8 assists in the Italian Serie A, forming with Fabio Quagliarella (he has scored 12 goals and he also has options to play the Euro-we recommended this player in other articles of this blog ) one of the most interesting pairs of the “Italian Calcio”-. But Luca Toni and Antonio Di Natale will have some tough competitors to be in the squad, since on the one hand, Marco Borriello is the top scorer of the Serie A with 19 goals and he has already been called by Donadoni to play the friendly games against Portugal and Spain and on the other hand, we can not forget Alberto Gilardino-but as we said in other articles, we do not like this player, since he does not support the San Siro´s pressure this season and in fact he has only scored when AC Milan plays as visitor-and the 2 classical: the elegant Alex Del Piero -who despite his 33 year´s old, he plays still excellent and this season he has made 8 assists and he has scored 18 goals, scoring 7 goals in the last 6 games of the championship-and the determinant Filippo Inzaghi, who is finishing the season at a impressive level with 9 goals in the last 5 games of the Championship and a player with his characteristics should be in the EURO, because there are closed games in this tournament and it is always important to have players, who are in the correct place to score a decisive goal.
Anyway, this is a great team and it can aspire to win the European Title and although it will have a difficult first round with France, Netherlands and Romania in the same group, we believe that Italy will play the 4th final of the competition, because on the one hand, France is a too veteran team and we will see players as Abidal and Thuram, who carry one quite weak year in FC Barcelona and besides the French goalkeepers do not offer too many guarantees and on the other hand, both Romania-it is a good block with good individualities -and Holland-it was unable to win the 2 serious games of the qualifying´s phase (against Romania)-are worse than Italy. Cheers,
J&F

2 comentarios:

Monica 08 dijo...

Very informative article!
Boriello had a great season. In his debut in the friendly Italy 3 - 1 Portugal in February he didn't disappoint. I think Donadoni's first options for forwards are Luca Toni and Di Natale.

I agree that Italy will get to the UEFA EURo 2008 final. I don't see Romania winning any game in Group C. I hope Portugal gets as far as the final in Vienna :) How far do you think Portugal will go?

Juan y Fer dijo...

Thanks Monica for the message, Yes Toni and Di Natale will be the first option, but Borriello(he will play in AC Milan next season)will have minutes sure, specially with the Inzaghi´s absence -I do not understand this decision-.
Be careful with Romania-it beat Holland in the Qualify´s game-.
About Portugal, I do not know, because it does not have a good "9",I think that Hugo Almedia and Nuno Gomes are not the adequate strikers for a team with options to win the championship-I do not understand the presence of Helder Postiga in the squad,altough what can I say about Makukula-.Besides It also has the problem of the goalkeeper, Ricardo does not transmit security.
So, we will see if Deco,Quaresma and Cristian Ronaldo will be enough to compensate the "9" and the goalkeeper´s problems.
o brigado!

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