Of the many reasons Italy was said to have flopped so spectacularly in the World Cup, one was the lack of friendlies prior to the actual tournament. Those that were played, like the Mexico loss, showed the deficiencies in the club but their rarity failed to provide an opportunity to rectify those deficiencies. In the midst of outrage, rending of garments, and promises to change the Azzurri in time for the next World Cup, FIGC has decided to repeat its pre-World Cup mistakes from the start.
Goal.com is reporting this morning that FIGC has failed to line up an opponent for their August 11 friendly, leaving Aremnia as possibly the only European opponent available to play. So rather than shake off the failure of the 2010 World Cup and unveil the Prandelli era with new players and an exciting match-up, Italian fans could be faced with a boring over-matched Armenian club. Contrast this with the United States, who in August will face Brazil in the Meadowlands, one of the largest American stadiums next to its largest city.
Granted, the squad that runs out onto the pitch in August 2010 will not be the same as the one that goes to Brazil in 2014, but the country needs to begin the “healing process” with an exciting match-up. FIGC needed to plan ahead and put up an exciting match, but probably failed to do so expecting the team to be recovering from World Cup greatness. It isn’t, and the leadership has failed to begin adequately preparing for the future.
If you wanted an exciting beginning to the Prandelli era, here are three matches I would rather see:
- Cameroon in Milan. Samuel Eto’o could play in front of the Inter Milan fans and the Azzurri would play a beatable but talented African team.
- Argentina in Naples. Granted a number of attendees would root for Argentina, but the return of Maradona to Naples would be electric. It would also give the Azzurri a chance to play a good squad in their home country, and a win would give instant credibility to the new manager and players.
- South Korea in Rome. The traditional power plays host to an up-and-coming national team in one of soccer’s greatest venues. South Korea has proven they are building a competitive national team, and the match with Italy would be a good way to measure up the new Italian squad with a successful World Cup team. This match-up could give the Italian faithful flashbacks to the 1992 loss to South Kora, though, so it would behoove the Azzurri to win.