Italy capped off a good showing at the FIFA Confederations Cup by beating Uruguay in penalties in the third-place game. Not only did Italy as a team leave a positive impression, a number of players did as well. One of them is Antonio Candreva.
The 26-year old midfielder has had an impressive season for both club and country as his performances for Lazio helped the team make a deep run in Europa League play and win the Coppa Italia. With his performances earning him a call-up to the Azzurri and then to be named to the Confederations Cup squad, it was assumed he would be solely a reserve player.
After not having played in the first two games, Candreva saw action as a starter in the final group stage game against Brazil. His play during that game earned him an opportunity and chance to once again start in the semifinal game against Spain. In this game, Candreva excelled and delivered a Man of the Match-type of performance.
Candreva spent the majority of the game bothering and tormenting Spanish left back Jordi Alba with his ability to get forward, and also stifled him from making runs as Candreva would track back and help out defensively in a defensive performance that frustrated Spain for the first 90 minutes.
To cap off what was a great performance, Candreva scored Italy’s first make in the penalty shootout, doing so by taking a Paneka kick much in the same way Andre Pirlo did against England at EURO 2012. To end the tournament, Candreva once again delivered a very good performance against Uruguay.
What Candreva showed in the three games he played at the Confederations Cup is that he should now be an automatic starter for Cesare Prandelli in his starting 11 from here on out. Aside from playing well, Candreva gives Prandelli is a player who can fit in and be employed in any of his preferred tactical formations.
Whether it be in the 4-3-2-1, 4-3-3, or 3-5-2 formations, Candreva can slot into the attacking midfield position and or wing position without feeling out of position. His performances also are a testament to how he has matured as a player and proved he is on the cusp of reaching the next level.
The Confederations Cup was an opportunity for teams and individual players to fine-tune a few things. In the case of Antonio Candreva, he used the Confederations Cup to make the statement that he should be a regular starter for the Azzurri from here until the end of the World Cup.