Ok, so after the match yesterday, I got to thinking about what my ideal Italy lineup would be. Italy, in my opinion, are at their best when they have a balance of attacking and defensive talent and when they utilize both of those aspects consistently throughout a match. A single minded approach like yesterday won’t cut it in the World Cup. So this is what I came up with.
I like the 4 man back line. The 3 man defense is alright but the midfield gets too congested. Yes, it denies opponents space to operate and advance with any potential but it isn’t going to work if Prandelli keeps trying to force aerial passes/attacks. That formation is best when the ball is on the ground and there are tight, precise attacking movements. For a 4 man back line, the fullbacks should be determined by gameplan and the opponent. With a more balanced, defensive approach, I’d use Maggio (better defensively than Abate) and Ogbonna (not a natural left back, he’s had experience and been successful in that position).
Pirlo needs to be on the pitch and needs to be an administrator of the attack. But he also can’t cover much ground in defense. De Rossi can make that up and since he plays a similar role with Roma, can be nearly every bit the regista that Pirlo is, adding another passing threat going forward.
Marchisio needs to be in an attacking role where he’s going to have the ball at his feet where he can use his playmaking ability to Italy’s advantage. He’s a box-to-box player that can mark, tackle, pass brilliantly, and create chances when he’s on the ball. That’s when Juve are at their best and that’s when Italy will be at their best, should they give him the opportunity. He’s the best all around midfielder that Italy have and is unfortunately underutilized for both club and country. Italy need like-minded players in attack with him, players that are solid on the ball, can track back to help defend, and that have attacking creativity. Italy have a ton of depth in the midfield and wing positions so positions can be swapped/interchanged between players without leaving anything to be desired.
Up top, given the fact that everyone is healthy, a Balotelli/Rossi strike partnership is the most lethal Italy will have to offer. Balotelli is world class and Rossi is the complete forward he needs beside him. With a squad like this, I have every bit of confidence that Italy can contend for a World Cup as long as they come tactically prepared and make the most of the abilities they have on the pitch instead of being limited strategically as they’ve shown in recent friendlies.