Fabrizio Miccoli: Azzurri Worthy

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Fabrizio Miccoli: Azzurri Worthy

It seems that every time you watch Palermo play in the Serie A, Fabrizio Miccoli puts on a show. So my friend refers to him as “The Miccoli Show” or simply “The Show.”

He is consistently one of the top performers, week in and week out, for a team that is competing for a place in next year's Champions League. Not only is he the best player on his team but has been one the leagues top performers all season long.

He currently sits third in the league with 18 goals to go along with 8 assists in 31 games. All of that follows a season of 14 goals and 8 assists in 30 games. Yet Fabrizio Miccoli hasn’t received a call to the Italian national team since 2004.

How can it be that a player of Miccoli’s caliber hasn’t gotten a look in that long?

Goals always seem to be at a premium for the Azzurri, and their strike force the last two years has been mediocre at best. Marcello Lippi has often looked to a trident in attack since the international retirement of Francesco Totti, the team’s last true trequarista. Meanwhile, the likes of Simone Pepe, Fabio Quagliarella, and Vincenzo Iaquinta have started games in attack.

None of these players has had the run of form that Miccoli has over the two years, nor do they possess the natural creative ability of Miccoli.

So what will it take for Miccoli to get a call up before the World Cup? He can’t have a much better season statistically and he continues to help his team push for a chance at the Champions League. Remember, he plays for Palermo, a team that is top half of the table but not much more.

He is not on a team surrounded by stars like Inter, Milan or Juventus (who Palermo is ahead of). He is the star and leader of a team of solid but not spectacular players (Ceasre Bovo, Antonio Nocerino, etc.) and a few young talents (Javier Pastore, Simon Kjaer, Abel Hernandez).

Also, he has performed well in big matches this season. Think back to two weeks when Palermo beat Milan 3-1 and Miccoli set up the first two goals and scored the third.

Miccoli can be a real asset to Italy. He is a player who never backs down from a challenge despite his 5’7” stature. Tactically, he can play in a variety of roles for the team. If Italy decides to play a two striker formation then he provides a nice alternative to Antonio DiNatale as the support striker, either as a starter or substitute.

If Lippi continues to play with three forward, think of the possibility of Miccoli and DiNatale, two very creative players who also finish well, flanking a pure striker like Alberto Gilardino or Giampaolo Pazzini. A trio containing those two would create big headaches for opposing defenses when supported by Italy’s strong midfield, containing the likes of Andrea Pirlo and Daniele DeRossi.

The possibilities seem to be endless for a team that has lacked creativity up front recently, if Lippi brings Miccoli on the team. Yet when Lippi submitted a provisional list of 29 players on Sunday for this week’s training session, Miccoli was not on the list.

Now, the decision is all Lippi’s and Italian fans can only hope that he reverses course and gives Miccoli a chance. Otherwise they will have to suffer through more of Pepe and Quagliarella.

Only time will tell if “The Miccoli Show” will be airing in South Africa. Fans can only hope that it makes its summer debut versus Paraguay on June 14 but at this point it doesn’t look promising.

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