Why Italy Needs to Improve Drastically in the Confederations Cup

Matteo BonettiContributor IJune 19, 2013

RECIFE, BRAZIL - JUNE 19:  Sebastian Giovinco (L) of Italy celebrates with team-mate Mario Balotelli (R) during the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 Group A match between Italy and Japan at Arena Pernambuco on June 19, 2013 in Recife, Brazil.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

After a scintillating 4-3 victory over Japan, Italy has automatically qualified past the group stages before encountering Brazil in a few days.

The Azzurri were still riding the wave of their dominance in Euro 2012, which saw them shock the world with one of the most aesthetically pleasing performances.

Led by the enterprising Cesare Prandelli, this revamped Italy garnered a newfound respect from some of the world's other footballing powers. 

However, they won't surprise anyone now. Italy came into the Confederations Cup with a 4-3-3 formation, which differs vastly in tactics compared to Prandelli's Juventus-like 3-5-2.

This four-man defense has so far been led by the Bianconeri pair of Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli, who have played in a 3-5-2 all season long domestically.

Out on the wings, Ignazio Abate hasn't totally convinced, and youngster Mattia De Sciglio is playing his first tournament on the senior side.

Normally sound and collected, it seems even Cesare Prandelli isn't quite sure of which tactical setup to employ. He called up the likes of Stephan El Shaarawy after a disappointing second half of the season with Milan, only to keep him benched so far in the competition after a few indifferent performances in recent friendlies. 

El Shaarawy was supposed to be one of the stars of this competition, spearheading an attack alongside Mario Balotelli, which would translate well into next summer.

Il Faraone has not managed to get on the field, and his place has been taken by Juventus substitute Emanuele Giaccherini, who is a Prandelli favorite.

Using an excuse about the players being tired for Italy's less than convincing start is nonsensical. Surely, a man of Prandelli's experience would have seen this trend before calling up certain players.

Against Japan, Italy was hardly deserving. The Blue Samurai were dominant for a majority of the first half and were unlucky on several occasions in the second.

Unfortunately, this says more about the Italian defense than anything. The usual sound Juventus pair need their third wheel, Leonardo Bonucci, to be introduced to the lineup.

Also, switching to a much more familiar 3-5-2 would not only accommodate the trio but also allow the attacking full backs to venture forward more freely.

In the end, a competition of this sort is hardly one that is remembered, but instead becomes a great practice for next year's World Cup in Brazil. Even thought most the players currently on the team are exhausted after finishing a domestic season that, in most cases, included playing in three or four different tournaments, it's a situation similar to what they can expect next season