Italy vs. Germany: 5 Things We Learned
In what has long been one of the world's classic matches in regards to international football, Germany took on the Italian national team at the San Siro in a friendly match that always comes with a tense atmosphere.
The final score finished as a 1-1 tie, but the result could have gone either way, as both of these fantastic footballing nations created a flurry of chances that they could not capitalize on.
Without further ado, let's take a look at five things we learned from this international friendly.
Prandelli Seems to Have Found His Formation
Italian coach Cesare Prandelli has been alternating between the three- and four-man defensive formations for the past two years, but has seemingly found one he can rely on for greater continuity within the squad.
He chose to go with a narrower 4-3-1-2, which then became a 4-3-2-1 in the second half. Both formations require fullbacks who are efficient at pushing up the flanks, and he got just what he wanted in Ignazio Abate and Domenico Criscito.
As a matter of fact, the lone goal came from Abate, who scored his first since 2008.
The 4-3-2-1 makes great use of the midfield depth Italy has, as well as the versatility to use either two attacking midfielders behind the strikers or two wingers.
Italy Continues to Haunt Germany
While a 1-1 friendly draw surely isn't too disappointing for any of the fan-bases involved, it reminds us that the German national team has an exceptionally hard time getting three points against the Azzurri.
The two most notable games between the sides in recent memory were the two semifinals, one in the 2006 World Cup and the other in the 2012 Euro competition, both which ended in wins for Italy.
The most beautiful aspect of this friendly was seeing how much hard-work both put into the match, knowing that it was hardly a friendly but rather a serious dress rehearsal for a match that might come up again in the World Cup.
They Know Match Could Be Pivotal in 2014
Expect this to be a pivotal match at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, as both nations are ranked among the top five worldwide, and will make a serious push to reach the final.
Germany have a slew of talent, especially in the attacking sector, where the traditional hard-nosed German type of striker has been replaced by a new breed with an almost latin-flair.
Italy on the other hand, will enter the competition for the first time without a true world-class defender like they've had in previous tournaments. While Andrea Barzagli has been an astonishing surprise, he's hardly a type like Alessandro Nesta, Fabio Cannavaro, or Paolo Maldini.
It almost felt as though both teams didn't want to give too much away, knowing that it'd be best to save their best secret for the actual competition.
Domenico Criscito Will Likely Be Italy's Left Back
After a one-year hiatus, Domenico Criscito returns to the Italian national team and showed that he's more than capable of being a starter on the team.
The Zenit St. Petersburg man has already logged more than 20 appearances with the Azzurri, but was held out following a betting scandal where his name was unfairly thrown into the mix. This caused Prandelli to worry about his mental health and kept him out of the Confederations Cup over the summer.
Criscito has an excellent left foot and loved to get forward and sling crosses into the middle of the box. He has decent pace and is an able defender, as he started out his career as a center back but was promptly moved to the wing.
It Was a Grand Spectacle
A total of three posts were hit, and the game had a frenetic pace about it, with both teams playing beautiful attacking football and going on surging runs.
While Germany were unlucky to hit the woodwork on several occasions, Italy weren't a pushover and stated their case that they can still go toe-to-toe with the best in the world.
Andrea Pirlo's movements were shifty, and the rest of the team played the ball on the ground often, using triangles to break down the opposing defense.
It was a fantastic night of football in a match that is a glorified friendly of the highest order.