5 Things for Italy to Be Positive About Following Loss to Uruguay
Despite failing to progress from the group stage for a second consecutive World Cup, it's not too hard to find a few things to be positive about concerning Italy.
This squad was certainly talented enough to go far in the competition, but a myriad of problems stung them, and it's now time to look toward the future to see if there is any sort of silver lining.
Here are five things for Italy to be positive about following their heartbreaking loss to Uruguay.
Marco Verratti Ready to Take Reins from Pirlo
Young magician Marco Verratti is one of the most exciting players coming through the Italian ranks.
He has already established himself a place in the starting XI and was easily the team's best performer against Uruguay.
He shared deep-lying playmaking duties with Andrea Pirlo and was nearly impossible to take off the ball, using a plethora of clever tricks and quick movements to get by defenders with ease.
Now that the legendary Andrea Pirlo has made it clear this would be his last World Cup, it's comforting to know that Verratti is waiting in the wings, and he's a capable replacement.
Plenty of Talent Was Left at Home
Had Stephan El Shaarawy and Giuseppe Rossi been fully fit this past season, there's a good chance that they would have featured in Cesare Prandelli's starting XI in Brazil.
Rossi was the leading goalscorer in Serie A during the first half of the season, only to endure yet another knee injury which kept him out most of this calendar year.
El Shaarawy, on the other hand, was Mario Balotelli's attacking partner in Milan, but he missed virtually the entire season with nagging foot problems.
With these two players and many more skillful ones left at home, there's a strong case that an alternative XI could have been made, which would have been successful.
Lack of Ideas, Not Skill, to Blame
As successful as Cesare Prandelli had been taking over for Marcello Lippi and guiding Italy to the Euro 2012 final, this particular competition would not be as kind.
Prandelli seemed to lack a clear idea of not only who belonged in his best XI, but also which formation to use.
A 3-5-2 was employed against Uruguay to ensure the midfield would not be overrun. However, with 4-3-3 and 4-3-1-2 the team's most recent formations of choice, the lack of chemistry was evident.
Italy Were in the Real Group of Death
Don't fool yourself—Italy were in the real group of death at the World Cup.
Not only are Uruguay and England tricky adversaries, but Costa Rica emerged as the Cinderella story of the tournament, showing that teams from CONCACAF are not to be taken lightly.
With the rise of Los Ticos and the skill available on the rosters of both Uruguay and England, it's clear that Italy were going to have to play their best to have a shot of getting through to the knockout stages.
Despite this, the Azzurri usually perform well against top opposition.
Hopefully something gets fixed within the next four years before Russia 2018 rears its head.
The Next World Cup Is in Europe
Historically, European teams don't fare too well in South America.
Whether it's the heat or humidity, there seems to be something missing. This World Cup further proved that point.
Teams that are used to this type of climate have done well, as the underdogs of Chile and Costa Rica have shown.
Fortunately for the Azzurri, Russia will host the 2018 World Cup—a place you wouldn't normally associate with searing heat and gargantuan insects.
With the Amazon in the rearview mirror, Italy should look to build a foundation starting with the new coach that will be hired in the place of Cesare Prandelli.