Conte makes the best of what he had
With an unlucky draw in the quarter finals of the Euro 2016, Gli Azzurri were beaten by Germany in penalties. Germany has finally beaten Italy in a meaningful cup game. Ozil managed to break the draw in the 65th minute while Bonucci converted a penalty 13 minutes later on a wonderful piece of defending by Jerome Boateng.
It’s been said over and over again, this is not the best squad Italy has put out in recent years. Questionable selections (Zaza, Sturaro) injured players and accumulation of yellow cards came back to haunt the Azzurri. Regardless, Italy was forced to still try to play with whats left over.
Like every other game Italy has played in, the team showed they can run with the best of teams. We can only be proud of this squad as they exceeded all expectations and lost to possibly the best team in the world, rather than a team like Iceland or Wales.
Conte worked miracles on this team. The amount of motivation and pride instilled into each player were key factors in their performances this summer. Once Italy went down 1-0, we think “Well, there goes that…” Then about 10 minutes later a PK called for Italy and hope is restored. For a full 120 minutes, the Italians defended and countered with whatever bit of energy they had left.
Whats a Midfield?
The Germans controlled the game because they were given the opportunity to do so. Missing De Rossi and Motta in Italy’s midfield hurt tremendously. Sturaro didn’t come close to filling the spot in the midfield. Italy would instantly go from defense to attack on most occasions, completely bypassing the midfield who was slow to catch up to Pelle and Eder. None of the midfielders were able to control any aspect of Italy’s game. Germany was able to use that to their advantage and pressure them the whole game, forcing many turnovers when the pressure was there.
Italy wasn’t able to create much, but their good chances came from changing the points of attack. On a few separate occasions, Italy was able to break through the German defense from switching play from right to left. De Sciglio’s wide, late runs caused trouble more often than not. Unfortunately, they were unable to capitalize on any of the chances, but it’s worth highlighting.
Once again, Insigne was subbed on late in the game and made an immediate impact. He offers that creativity that Italy’s lineup lacks. I can see why Conte didn’t give him a bigger role as he focused more on the defensive side of the game, but we would’ve liked to see him featured more to see if he could add a different dimension to the attack as he adds pace, vision and isn’t afraid to take chances and go for goal.
At around the 115′ mark I started thinking Conte would try to throw everyone off and Put Sirigu in to stop some PK’s because I never thought Buffon was the best candidate for it and seeing as there was one more sub left to make. But no, it was wasted on Zaza.
I will not put anyone at fault for the poor display of penalties… except for Zaza and Pelle. Instead of banning stutter steps from PK’s, FIFA should ban idiotic run ups. If they need any point of reference, look no further.
What’s next for the national team?
We’ve seen what Conte could do with a team full of nobodies. Since he is leaving for Chelsea this coming season, a new source of motivation is needed. This team has showed us that the Italians don’t need a Totti or Pirlo or any kind of household name to find success. With the right direction and motivation to just stick together and play with pride for their people, they will be an international favorite. Take this team, plus a healthy Verratti and Candreva, Giovinco and I think this team would be even better than they showed us this past Euro 2016 campaign.