Michael Steele/Getty Images
This move will come more out of necessity than anything else, as Giorgio Chiellini looked to be in some distress as he limped off the field in the second half of yesterday’s match.
While Italian fans wait anxiously for word on of the severity of Chiellini’s injury, they don’t have to look too far for a replacement should the uncompromising Juventus defender be unable to play any further part in the tournament.
Yes, his absence would be a big one, but in Daniele De Rossi, Italy have a player more than capable of stepping in and providing the same type of steel, solidity and organization at the heart of the defense.
His dynamic presence in the center of the pitch is an important asset to the Azzurri, but given his impressive performances against Spain and Croatia, he may be more useful to the squad as a defender.
Should Italy decide to play with three at the back, De Rossi’s composure on the ball will allow them to keep possession when necessary, while his passing ability will make it much easier to turn defense into attack quickly and hit the opposition on the break.
It is a move that could work to great effect even if Chiellini is deemed fit for Sunday’s quarterfinal match, as the two men could form a solid trio alongside Andrea Barzagli, who looked calm and composed as ever in his return from injury.
That move would open up space in the midfield for Thiago Motta to play in his natural position as a holding midfielder, providing cover for the back three that wasn’t always there against Ireland.
Despite being solid defensively, De Rossi does like to get forward quite often, which caused some problems last night in Poznan as Italy were caught short on a few occasions, allowing the Irish to break.
If Italy give up similar opportunities to some of the other nations in this tournament, they will not walk away from the match with a clean sheet.
With Motta patrolling the midfield, this gives the Juventus duo of Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio more freedom to focus on creating goal-scoring opportunities, knowing that they have someone to rely on behind them should they lose possession.