The Italian national team has closed the year with two promising draws against Germany and Nigeria.
Overall, 2013 was a positive year for the Azzurri. Throughout the course of it, the boss Cesare Prandelli was able to achieve important objectives, both from the professional and human perspectives.
As a matter of fact, in addition to the third spot obtained at the Confederations Cup, Prandelli became the first manager in Italy’s history in reaching World Cup qualification with two matches to spare.
Here are the four crucial points that could lead Italy to a successful participation in Brazil 2014.
1- The form of Andrea Pirlo
Besides Francesco Totti, there is no doubt that the 34-year-old is the greatest talent of Italian football. In fact, it is not a surprise that the whole country relies on him for a successful World Cup, which will also be his final experience with the national team. For this reason, his great ambition will allow him to approach the tournament with the highest motivation possible. The first six months of 2014 at Juventus will be crucial for his form, both physical and mental.
2- The Rossi-Balotelli partnership
Very different to each other, both as players and as individuals, Giuseppe Rossi and Mario Balotelli have become the two main symbols of the new Italy. In the game against Nigeria, it only took them 12 minutes into the first half to demonstrate that they can perfectly complement one another as the American born forward greatly put the ball into the back of the net after a stupendous assist by the African descendant. Without a doubt, the Rossi-Balotelli partnership can become a real threat for any team in the World Cup.
3- The Juventus-defense block
It is quite unbelievable to be writing about Italy and defensive problems in the same sentence. However, this is a shocking reality of today’s world. Both in the Confederations Cup and World Cup qualifiers, Italy significantly struggled in the defense line, mainly because of the decreasing level of the Juventus block Barzagli-Bonucci-Chiellini, who represented one of the world’s strongest back lines in the previous two years at Juventus and at the 2012 European Championship, aside from the final against Spain. Regardless of the actual formation that will be used by Prandelli, the need for these three defenders to recover their regular level is quite high.
4- The revival of the Catenaccio-Spirit
The catenaccio-spirit doesn’t directly refer to the actual defensive approach often used by Italy in the past. As a matter of fact, it would be foolish to even think that Prandelli could use that system after three years of working on an offensive style. However, the concept of catenaccio-spirit invokes the winning mentality that is always present in the hearts of Italian players in important moments. Every single great generation of Italian history has always been characterized by the presence of individuals who achieved glorious objectives thanks to their magnificent leadership values. Such individuals are always able to overcome obstacles and to lead the team to historic performances. In this sense, Italy’s World Cup ambitions hugely depend on the leadership role undertaken by its five most experienced players. As the only 2006 World Cup winners remaining in the team, Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Pirlo, Daniele De Rossi, Andrea Barzagli, and even Alberto Gilaridino will be required to provide the heroic spirit to the rest of the team.