Haiti 2-2 Italy: 6 Things We Learned from International Friendly
Italy threw away a two-goal lead against minnows Haiti in a friendly to prepare for the FIFA Confederations Cup.
The Azzurri had led in less than a minute through Emanuele Giaccherini and extended that lead with Claudio Marchisio's goal after he came on as a substitute.
Cesare Prandelli's side switched off in the closing stages though and conceded twice in the last five minutes to throw away the win.
Here are six things we learned.
Giaccherini Is Italy's Most Versatile Player
Emanuele Giaccherini seized a rare opportunity to start for the Azzurri against Haiti.
The Juventus player can offer a Prandelli a variety of options and was famously used as a left-back at last year's Euro 2012.
Giaccherini was used in a more advanced midfield role, thriving as a mezz'ala to the side of the side's regista Alberto Aquilani.
A natural winger, Giaccherini can be a great option as a centre-midfielder due to his close control and ability to dribble the ball and carry his team forward in transition.
Despite a lack of starts for Juventus, Prandelli clearly values his versatility, and I fully expect him to be part of the squad for next year's World Cup, even if he continues to be used as a squad player for the Bianconeri.
Candreva's Willingness to Shoot Is Key for Italy
Antonio Candreva struggled for form towards the end of last season at Lazio.
Seemingly suffering from fatigue, Candreva's form fizzled out after such an explosive start to the season for the Albiceleste.
With a unique set of skills for an Italian midfielder, Candreva offers the option of taking on a shot from distance, preventing the opposition from dropping really deep.
With several spectacular goals from distance last season, Candreva is not scared to shoot if afforded the opportunity.
Frandy Montrévil was called into action several times and couldn't contain Candreva's shots, bringing into play the possibility of Italy's centre-forwards—Alberto Gilardino and Alessandro Diamanti on this occasion—following in the shot to receive an easy rebound to score.
El Shaarawy and Balotelli Showed Great Chemistry
It is a partnership that many have said will not work, but Stephan El Shaarawy and Mario Balotelli showed glimpses of an understanding that could blossom for both club and country in the coming months.
For just over 30 minutes, Il Faraone and Super Mario were able to link up to good effect—something that is worth taking note of, regardless of the opposition.
Balotelli's movement when El Shaarawy picked up the ball deep meant that El Shaarawy could move the ball and then dash into the space that his Milan teammate vacated, dragging Haiti's Judelin Aveska away from goal.
This combination was demonstrated for the Claudio Marchisio goal and will give Prandelli something to work on in the coming weeks.
Balotelli drifted away from the middle to pick the ball up and get to the byline, cutting the ball back for the onrushing El Shaarawy and Marchisio.
By starting in a narrow 4-4-2, Prandelli knows that the width will naturally come by the deceptive movement of his forwards.
Prandelli Needs to Drop Gilardino
Cesare Prandelli should not call upon Alberto Gilardino after this summer's Confederations Cup.
The veteran striker has not been in the best of form for Bologna, but his experience is something that Prandelli clearly values.
The 30-year-old has 18 goals in 51 games for the Azzurri, but his lack of pace is a problem when it comes to his all-round contribution to the team.
When he is not deadly in front of goal—as was the case against Haiti—Gilardino cannot offer the same versatility that Balotelli does. His presence can make Italy rather predictable.
If he cannot drop deep or move out wide, the likes of El Shaarawy will be forced to play a more disciplined role for the team, which restricts his ability.
Pablo Osvaldo is obviously a superior option, but his discipline is to be questioned, while Mattia Destro had struggled with fitness for much of last season at Roma. Once the 22-year-old forward is fit, he will also be a superior option.
If Prandelli is looking for a more experienced, reliable option, then Giampaolo Pazzini would be preferable. At least Pazzo can offer a little more dynamism with his game and a greater understanding with much of the squad due to his experience at club level.
Aquilani Shows Great Promise as the Regista
Alberto Aquilani offered a great look at his capability to be the regista for the Azzurri against Haiti.
He rarely played that role for Fiorentina last season due to the competition from David Pizarro. Even when the Chilean is unavailable, Borja Valero was preferred by Vincenzo Montella.
But Aquilani could count this position as his preferred role when he has all of the options in front of him.
When pushed forward for the Viola, his long passing becomes underused and this is one of the 28-year-old's greatest assets.
With Andrea Pirlo's career with the Azzurri coming to an end, a successor will be named in a year or so and Aquilani could yet be in the frame.
Salvatore Sirigu Is Indisputably the No. 2
Salvatore Sirigu was offered a start between the sticks for this friendly. Federico Marchetti replaced the PSG goalkeeper for the second half.
Sirigu is surely the preferred option behind Gianluigi Buffon, and he showed good composure when he was brought into action.
Sirigu got down well to deny Jeff Louis' stinging drive from distance and commanded his area well.
On the other hand, Marchetti showed a couple of flaws in his game that have crept into his Lazio performances lately.
The 30-year-old was too often found to be rooted to his line and this created uncertainty for his back four.
At corners especially, Marchetti was guilty of failing to evade the danger by simply claiming routine crosses.
For Jean-Philippe Peguero's injury-time equaliser, Marchetti once again failed to come out of his goal and allowed Davide Astori's lack of pace to be exposed, ultimately costing the Azzurri a victory.