Antonio Conte will be forced to get creative this summer as he will head to the Euro’s without the services of one of Italy’s key players.
Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio, capped 54 times by Italy, was stretchered off the pitch in the Bianconeri’s 4-0 victory over Palermo on Sunday and it has been confirmed that the Italian has torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, ruling him out of Euro 2016.
This is a blow for Conte, exacerbated by the fact another key central midfielder, Marco Verratti, has not played for Paris Saint-Germain since mid-February due to a persistent groin problem.
If Verratti is fit, he surely starts this summer. But how does Conte replace Marchisio in the Italy starting X1? The obvious replacement is Lazio’s Marco Parolo who plays the same sort of role for Lazio as Marchisio plays for Juve. He could also turn to Jorginho, who has been a revelation with Napoli this season and received his Azzurri debut against Spain last month.
However during the last round of international fixtures, Conte was missing both Marchisio and Marco Verratti and instead of bringing in straight replacements, Conte switched to a 3-4-3 formation, which requires one less central midfielder and he may decide to pursue this formation now that he is down one of his key figures in the middle of the park.
Roma’s Daniele De Rossi and Juventus’ Stefano Sturaro can provide more bite to the midfield, but should the Chelsea-bound coach wish to add some experience to the squad he can call on Andrea Pirlo of New York City FC, a man that Conte knows all too well from their Juventus days.
Pirlo has fallen out of the picture since joining MLS side NYC FClast summer and will be 37 by the time EURO 2016 kicks off. However, he won three Scudettos under Conte while at Juve and knows exactly what the demanding coach requires of his players. Tellingly, he has never ruled himself out of the finals.
Could Marchisio’s absence convince Conte that Pirlo should be given one last chance to strut his stuff on the biggest stage?