While I'm not happy with what the guy did to my second favorite team, Juventus, Lucciano Moggi made some good points about the Italian national team. After a disgraceful first-half that saw the Azzuri play as though they were a small nation just learning about international competition and not one of the world's premier football powers, it is obvious that something was wrong.
I won't go so far as to say Donadoni is clueless -- blaming the manager is the easiest thing to do -- but it is obvious that Donadoni tried to play two cards at once. One was to stand pat with the players that won the World Cup two years ago. The other was to make small, but important changes. This isn't the worst thing to do, but he lost the plot by not making changes where they were necessary and making changes where they were not.
The largest issue to me was the return of Panucci at the expense of both Oddo and Grosso. Oddo I can understand -- he was dreadful for his club, though he did play well when called upon by Italy. Grosso proved his case in the second half yesterday by being an energizing point for the club.
I do understand not dropping Materazzi, especially when Cannavaro went down. It's hard to drop all three CBs from the World Cup with Cannavaro out and Nesta retired from international play, but the fact is Matrix was awful for Inter. His play against Holland shows that he should be benched in favor of a younger and in-form Chiellini.
Moggi was off-base when he said Gatusso had no business being on the team and that Panucci should play over Brazagli. Gatusso has a role, but it should be off the bench in favor of De Rossi. I'm not all for a million changes, but some need to be made.
Alex Del Piero coming off the bench was fine heading into the game. Yes he was the best Italian striker in Serie A and he was deadly as hell this year, but Luca Toni is the best Italian forward and Di Natale was a major reason the team qualified.
That said, when Del Piero came on there was an obvious change to the team and he and Cassano (another sub that brought the Italian level of play up) are the two most gifted forwards for Italy with Totti retired from international play.
This loss, while embarassing, isn't the end of the tournament for Italy, but Donadoni has to go with his in-form players. He can't wait for guys to figure it out. They had that chance against Holland and frankly blew it. The team can still qualify by beating Romania and forcing a draw with France, but realistically they will need to win both. To do so they need speed, passion and creativity. The good news is France seemed to have similar problems, though they at least held a point. Holland will drop points I think. It's possible, though not probable, to top the group.
The best line-up the team has is:
ST -- Del Piero
ST -- Toni
ST -- Cassano
MF -- Ambrosini
MF -- Pirlo
MF -- De Rossi
RB -- Zambrotta
LB -- Grosso
CB -- Brazgali
CB -- Chiellini
GK -- Buffon
If the team went up by 2 early or 1 late, remove one of the strikers for Gatusso and possibly another for Panucci and play lockdown catenaccio. Unfortunately with a best case scenario being a second place finish coming out of the groups, it's likely Italy will play Spain in the quarters and then a very real possibility, should they defeat Spain, of facing Holland or France again in the semis followed by the Portugese or Germans in the finals. In other words, Italy gave themselves the hardest road to the championship and it seems likely that France will remain the lone World Cup holder to secure the European Championship.