At the Confederations Cup, Italy looked old, slow, and predictable. Marcelo Lippi needs to swallow his pride and call up Antonio Cassano, as well as relying more on youth. There was a huge lack of creativity in South Africa, and the squad needs an overhaul before the tournament that actually matters.
Here is my squad:
(1) Gigi Buffon
Is still Italy’s best keeper at the age of 31. Had some moments where he didn’t look quite himself last season. Despite this, he is still one of the top players in the cage in world.
(14) Marco Amelia
A very talented GK, however he is no Buffon. Has been one of Palermo’s best players since he joined their squad in 2008, and he has been linked with Italy’s “big” clubs.
(15) Gianluca Curci
The 24 year old is a virtual clone of Buffon. He has shown that he is one of the top keepers in Serie A, and it is only a matter of time before Roma calls him back to be their top choice. He has a very real chance of eventually taking the Italian first choice after Buffon retires.
(2) Marco Motta
Last season Motta might well have been the best right-back in Serie A. He was also a key member of the Italian U-21 team, serving as their captain. He should be incorporated in the senior side, and should be given the chance to start if he proves up to the task.
(3) Fabio Grosso
Has been one of Italy’s most consistent defenders since the ’06 World Cup. He scored the winning PK in the shootout that gave Italy the win. Always gives his best for the national team and he should be given a chance to perform.
(4) Giorgio Chiellini
Over the past few seasons has proven to be Italy’s best CB. He still looks a little awkward when is clearing the ball, but he is still an excellent player. He uses his height and leaping ability to his advantage, both defending his opponent’s set pieces and contributing on his own team's.
(5) Alessandro Gamberini
A solid, but not spectacular center back. He would add a good backup to the mix, and he could contribute if he has to. If he plays it would be ideal if he plays next to a player like Nesta who could help limit any potential mental mistakes.
(6) Alessandro Nesta
Nesta has stated that he retired from international football after the last World Cup. Despite this, Lippi must make every effort to get him back. Italy needs a world-class veteran CB to pair with Chiellini, and the two options that would make any sense at all are Nesta and Fabio Cannavaro.
The problem with that latter is that he is getting old (37) and is not the player he once was. Nesta is five years younger, and at this point is a better player. Lippi should offer him the captain’s armband to secure his return.
(13) Fabiano Santacroce
One of, in not the most talented young defenders Italy has to offer. He has a bit of an attitude problem, but nothing that his veteran teammates couldn’t help him work through. He appears to be Nesta’s heir to the center back spot next to Chiellini.
(19) Gianluca Zambrotta
Is still a good backup at this stage in his career. He should only be used in an emergency, as in if two of the other four outside backs are hurt. If he is forced into action however, he is a veteran who would be able to produce if he has to. A nice veteran to have around to serve as an example to the younger players on the team.
(22) Davide Santon
Was a revelation for Inter last season. He is simply a player with a very bright future, and he should get a spot on this squad. Santon has the ability to play either LB or RB, and if Grosso proves to not be up to the task, Santon needs to take his place.
(7) Ricardo Montolivo
Has played very well for Fiorentina the past few seasons. Was one of the few Italian players at the Confederations Cup that was able to show any creativity and pace.
(8) Gennaro Gattuso
Gattuso had a poor Confederations Cup, but this also had something to do with the fact that he had just returned from a major injury and wasn’t in shape or in top form. He shouldn’t be starting at this point, but he is still an excellent backup.
(10) Alberto Aquilani
One of the best central mids that the peninsula has to offer. He has been one of Roma’s best players the past view seasons, and he has been highly sought after by numerous Premier League teams. Missed the Confederations Cup due to injury, but, at 25, he is a rising star who could shine if he is giving the opportunity in South Africa.
(12) Luca Cigarini
A young Andrea Pirlo clone. Was one of Italy’s best players at the U-21 tournament and he is one of the players that represents the future of the Italian national team.
(16) Daniele De Rossi
Is currently one of the best, if not the best, defensive midfielders in world. He is a assured starter, and he does a great job of winning balls and he has a wicked shot (that he is not afraid of using). Is a star and he will be a force, albeit not an overly creative one.
(21) Andrea Pirlo
Not quite the player he was during the 2006 World Cup, but he is still one of the best deep-lying playmakers in the world. Will help to direct the Italian attack and will take the free kicks and corners in all likelihood. He does a nice job of creating chances for his teammates, and much of Italy’s success rides on his shoulders.
(9) Vincenzo Iaquinta
A Juve striker that will take over for Luca Toni as Italy’s tall target man. Played well in the ’06 World Cup, and his height will be an asset on corners and set pieces.
(11) Giampaolo Pazzini
After his transfer to Sampdoria last season, he was one of the best strikers in Italy. He would add a goal-scoring element that Italy was sorely missing in South Africa. His partnership with Cassano, if taken advantage of, could be the difference for Italy in 2010.
(17) Giuseppe Rossi
It would not be hard to make the argument that Rossi was the best Italian player at the Confederations Cup. He has a powerful shot, and is also to add creativity to the game. He may be of most use as a sub that adds energy to the team in the second half.
(18) Antonio Cassano
Ah, the great enigma that is Antonio Cassano. He may very well be the most talented Italian currently playing the beautiful game. Unfortunately, his attitude has historically matched his talent. Lippi has decided he can win without him. The Confederations Cup proved that this notion is wrong.
Cassano has seemed to have grown up a lot the last few years, and he should be included in the World Cup squad. He should be starting as the second striker, and he is everything that the Italian team needs at the moment. This is the chance for him to save Italian soccer, and put his rocky past behind him for good.
(20) Sebastian Giovinco
One of the most dynamic young players in Italy. The “Atomic Ant” has the ability to replace Del Piero on both Juve and the National team. Will not likely play a key role, but his time will come for sure.
(23) Fabio Quagliarella
Is a different type of striker than the others on the team. He has been a force in Serie A the past few seasons and he is a nice player for the national team. He is 26, and still has the potential to improve as a player, which is something that was far too rare in South Africa this year.
---Motta----Nesta (C) ----Chiellini----Grosso---