The day after Spain concluded a very well-deserved 1-0 victory over Italy, there’s been much criticism directed towards the Azzurri, who according to the common opinion are now not good enough to even dream about the World Cup.
However, if history has taught us anything, it is precisely that it would be a huge mistake to judge Italians based on friendly encounters. Everyone knows that the Nazionale always tends to gives their best in the real important clashes against the strongest teams. Since 2012, Italy have only won one out of 12 friendlies … against San Marino.
On the contrary, they haven’t been able to achieve victory against any of the so-called giants such as France, England, Holland, Brazil, Argentina, Nigeria, Germany and even Uruguay in 2011. Moreover, against Russia and Haiti, Italy suffered a respective 3-0 defeat and 2-2 draw right before the great adventures in the 2012 European Championship and the 2013 Confederations Cup.
For all these reasons, having just lost to the world’s strongest team in their home is not a failure or threat for boss Cesare Prandelli. If anything, a similar result was to be expected given the conditions of this game. It won’t be a surprise to see a whole different story in terms of performances in the World Cup.
What worries the most about the game is the precarious physical shape of all the Azzurri at this point. It was even recognized by the manager himself, who used it as an excuse to justify the level discrepancy in respect to the Spaniards. The Nazionale is only a reflection of Serie A. Maybe Russia’s manager Fabio Capello had it right when he talked about Juventus‘ misfortunes in Champions League, which caused him to be strongly attacked by Antonio Conte.
According to the 58-year-old, the league has lost its sense of competitiveness in respect to the rest of the world. Consequently, the strongest players and teams find themselves not prepared when having to facing international clashes because they’re not appropriately trained Sunday after Sunday.
Italy can play a great World Cup given the right motivation, but given the current situation, the Azzurri will have to struggle more than usual in order to achieve the desired results, especially considering that they will have to face big teams right from the beginning to the end with little time to rest between clashes.