With Andrea Barzagli looking increasingly likely to miss out on Euro 2012 due to a calf injury, there have been a lot of stories coming out of the Italy camp that Cesare Prandelli is thinking about playing a 3-5-2 formation against Spain in Italy’s opening match in Euro 2012.
If Italy were to go with three at the back, Prandelli’s logical back three would have been Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci as they have all played together in that role for Juventus this season. But with Barzagli out, Prandelli has been experimenting in training with Daniele De Rossi at centre-back.
It’s a risky move as while De Rossi has played at the back before that was as part of a back-four, as is Angelo Ogbonna and Astori the other defenders in the squad.
And it is not just defensively that Italy has problems. The team has not scored in their last tree matches, all loses, and confidence in the team has to be low after the weekend’s shocking performance in a 3-0 defeat to Russia. Moving De Rossi from midfield back into defence will not help Italy score goals.
As Napoli goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis said in yesterday’s press conference:
“It went wrong for us against Russia, but the result [a 3-0 defeat] wasn’t a fair reflection of the way we played. What we learnt was that we need to improve the balance of the side. We looked capable of scoring at any time but we also looked just as likely to concede, so need a better balance. The teams that go the distance at EURO are those who defend the best, even if they don’t necessarily score many goals.”
With all the off-field issues surrounding the national team, the Spain game could make or break Italy’s Euro 2012 campaign. A good performance and even a narrow defeat will give the side confidence to go on and finish second in their group. A big loss however ould damage morale even further and could see Italy not get out of the group stages for the second consecutive tournament.
If Prandelli goes 3-5-2 against Spain I fear that it will be the latter scenario for Italy, and that Spain will inflict a heavy defeat on them, a result that will send Italy on a downward spiral and out of the competition.