Cesare Prandelli’s path as Italy coach begun four years ago, just after the South African World Cup fiasco, which was led by the former World Cup winner Marcello Lippi.
During his four years in charge as Italy’s coach, the former Fiorentina manager led Italy to second place at Euro 2012 and the third place at last year’s Confederations Cup. Prandelli has always tried to present a national team able to win and convincingly too, through high quality football.
Before the 2014 World Cup, Italy had almost always played enjoyable football and Prandelli’s project looked untouchable as he also signed a two-year contract extension with the Italian Football Federation.
The first complaints about Prandelli came less than a month ago, after having announced his World Cup squad. The choice of leaving at home striker Giuseppe Rossi, due to physical problems, had not convinced some Italian media. Many fans also were disappointed by this omission too. Some newspapers were also criticizing his new contract, with the ridiculous accusation being he was taking advantage of Italian taxpayers.
Prandelli’s project was ambitious and probably impossible as he couldn’t count on too many quality players, like for example, Spain or Brazil. When he become Italy National team’s boss, the Spanish Tiki-Taka was the example to follow. He tried to give Italy a winning mentality, through a ball possession that many players simply could not yet accomplish.
He always seemed secure in his tactical choices, but but seemed unsure before the World Cup started and carried through the group stage. Just before the tournament, he changed the system into a 4-5-1, a formation he tried in a couple of pre-World Cup matches. He discarded the winning Juventus 3-5-2, as well as the 4-3-1-2 that he always used, before Riccardo Montolivo’s injury, just before the World Cup began.
The new 4-5-1 appeared to be exactly what he was looking for after Italy’s winning World Cup debut. The Azzurri seemed solid, with lot of quality in the middle of the field, thanks to the class of Andrea Pirlo and Marco Verratti.
Everything changed against Costa Rica, when he should have been more proactive on offense. He confirmed the 4-5-1 which is not really an offensive option, and Italy’s ball possession become a problem instead of a virtue, especially after the first Costa Rican goal. The Azzurri were not able to produce one single shot on goal, exactly as it happened against Uruguay in the last match of both the group stage and the tournament.