Today in the fourth of 8 blogs, I will examine one of the big favorites to win the Confederations Cup in Italy. They will kick off their tournament against the United States at 2:30 in the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria. They will be joined in Group B with Brazil and Egypt.
On that date, Italy will look to revert back to World Cup 2006 form and forget all about Euro 2008. Their play in the EURO exposed them, but they now have the opportunity to put that result behind them and to learn just what the best lineup for them is. Expect them to have solid defence, a good attack, and a very creative midfield when they take the field in Pretoria.
Strength- Among many strengths, the Italians have found success due to the fact that almost every man plays in Italy. Only 5 of the current squad play their football outside of Italy, and this one of the biggest advantages a team can have. The team's chemistry is as strong as any I've ever seen. When I watch this team, I always draw their play back to the old "Clockwork Orange", Dutch, Total Football sides from the 70's. The reason that those two sides had and have success is simple, they know one another and almost all of their club teams play the same style of football. The Italians always seem to know where each other are and they can pick a pass from a mile away (Pirlo mostly). Another great thing that the "in-house" football creates is great depth for a team. The Italians are deeper than any team I've ever seen. When you have men like Giuseppe Rossi coming off the bench, you know you have a big advantage. If players are injured or not playing well, the Italians can just throw guys in there and change roles so that they can go about their play as usual. With all of this as an advantage, the team is very strong and I think are easily one of the favorites to win it all.
Weakness- If there is a weakness, then it has to be goalscoring right now. In Euro 2008, Italy just didn't do well in the goals department. They were very lacking in this area, shown by the three goals that they scored in 4 matches. Luca Toni will need to finish his chances if the Italians are to take first place in the group and avoid Spain until the final. The other strikers and mids will also need to step up and finish off their chances if they are given the opportunity.
Player to Watch- The player to watch will be Fabio Cannavaro and his play. His leadership was deeply missed in Euro 2008 and the captain will look to sure up that defence this time around so that they don't have to all pack it in. Cannavaro's leadership, as I've already stated, is the main thing. If he can play like he used to, Italy will win the Confederations Cup and have a great shot at the World Cup in a year.
Prediction- Italy play like they used to and come in a close second to Brazil. Regardless, I see them making it to the Semi-Finals.
Thanks, it's been Keeper and I'm out.