Who Are the Starting 11 for the Azzurri?

by Robert on June 11, 2010 · 5 comments

An ESPN inter­view with some of the Ital­ian national team play­ers shows that not even the squad seems to know who will be on the pitch on Sun­day when they kick off ver­sus Paraguay.  Mar­cello Lippi has been tight-lipped about who will start and what for­ma­tion the Azzurri will play, even not­ing that the for­ma­tion could be fluid through­out the World Cup.  A look at the starters in recent friend­lies is a use­less guide, as the last two have seen vastly dif­fer­ent lineups.

How­ever, if Mar­cello Lippi asked me who my start­ing 11 would be on June 14 (and I am check­ing my voice­mail just in case), here would be my suggestion:

For­ma­tion:4–3-3.  The strength of this squad is their defending, and this for­ma­tion allows the Azzurri to play with their best four defend­ers.  Since they are with­out Pirlo for the first two matches at least, this for­ma­tion allows for play­ers to move up for more offen­sive fire­power if needed, such as mov­ing Mag­gio up to the midfield.

Keeper:Gian­luigi Buf­fon.  I don’t think I need to explain why.

Back­line: Leonardo Bonucci, Fabio Can­navaro, Gior­gio Chiellini, Chris­t­ian Mag­gio.  Can­navaro and Chiellini are no-brainers and should be on the pitch from the open­ing kick.  Mag­gio is arguably bet­ter placed as a winger but start­ing him on the back­line allows him to move around in the 4–3-3 as needed, either into the mid­field or remain­ing back.  Bonucci may be the most con­tro­ver­sial inclu­sion, but the young defender has shown a knack for scor­ing off set pieces and could be a valu­able option in the box on offense if the club needs to score.  Plus, by start­ing the Bari defender, Lippi can play his more expe­ri­enced play­ers later in the match if expe­ri­ence is called for.  Lippi can call on Zam­brotta for expe­ri­ence but if he needs fresh legs, Bochetti would be available.

Mid­field:Daniele De Rossi, Ric­cardo Mon­to­livo, Gen­naro Gat­tuso.  Mid­field is arguably the weak­est part of the club right now with injuries to Pirlo and Camoranesi, so a three-player mid­field with the option of mov­ing up a defender or drop­ping a for­ward is ideal.  DeRossi and Gat­tuso are vet­er­ans who have won a World Cup and can pro­vide expe­ri­ence in man­ag­ing a World Cup match from the mid­dle.  Pirlo’s injury means the Azzurri lack a play­maker whose pass­ing skills can jump start an attack, so Fiorentina cap­tain Mon­to­livo and his pass­ing skills are needed in the middle.

For­wards: Fabio Quagliarella, Alberto Gilardino, Vin­cenzo Iaquinta.  My gut has me lean­ing toward these three being the starters up front, although it may be hard to keep Di Natale and Pazz­ini on the bench to start.  Di Natale was the lead­ing scorer in Serie A, so if Italy fails to threaten the goal in their first match you may see DiNa­tale start­ing the sec­ond.  But this lineup allows for an expe­ri­enced front to begin a match and, if Italy needs a quick strike or more offense, has some fire­power com­ing off the bench. 

We are about 48 hours away from the Azzurri tak­ing the pitch — who’s your start­ing 11?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rami S. June 11, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Starting 11 for Azzurri:

- GK: Buffon (no doubt there)- hope he will be injury-free

- Defenders: Maggio, Cannavaro, Bonucci, Chiellini
(Chiellini played left-back before, Maggio is good at attacking & in midfield Gattuso will start to cover on the right when Maggio attacks)
Bonucci is a promising player and needs experience. Now is the time to put him to the test.

- Midfield: I’d go for 4 in midfield with Gattuso on right, De Rossi & Montolivo more central, and Marchisio on the left to help Juventus teammate Chiellini.

- Attach: Start with Gilardino and Di Natale. This means Quagi, Pazzini and Iaquinta can come off the bench when goals are needed.

No place for Pepe or Camoranesi to start. This is worth a shot ahead of the other 2 group games but I sense Lippi leaning towards Zambrotta. In this case, Zambrotta on left, Maggio on right, then Cannavaro and Chiellini as centre-backs. Everything else stays the same.


2 Robert June 11, 2010 at 2:09 pm

I think you are right, Zambrotta likely will start which I think is an unwise choice.


3 Frank June 13, 2010 at 5:15 am

Italy should play a 4-4-2 system. It suits the players better and they are always harder to beat with this system.

Maggio defintely has to start as will Canna and Chiellini. Zambrotta will start on the left.

The midfield should be a diamond shape. De Rossi as deep lying defensive midfielder with Marchisio and Gattuso in front of him. Montolivo to play at the front of the diamond.

Up front Di Natale has to be included based on his great season. Alongside him should be Pazzini.


4 Niccolo Conte June 13, 2010 at 10:14 am

I agree with Frank except on one point, while the 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield is a good idea, I think that Marchisio and Gattuso would be out of position.

When Marchisio played for Juventus on the lefts side of the diamond, he had to spread the play wide, and that’s not the type of player he is. For Italy it’ll be the same, Zambrotta doesn’t get up the field as much from the full-back position, so Marchisio will have to provide the width on the left side of midfield.

I hate to say it but I’d rather have a more wide-orientated player like Camoranesi on the left of the diamond instead of Marchisio. Gattuso might not have as much of a problem because Maggio is young and he loves getting up the field, providing width, and swinging in crosses.


5 Rami S. June 13, 2010 at 1:45 pm


Those are my exact thoughts with Maggio if he starts. As I mentioned before he is good going forward so Italy will use a defensive minded midfielder to cover for him when he is attacking. That’s why I think Gattuso might start.

You mentioned a good point: Marchisio played on the left for Juve but he prefers a more central role. I think it will depend on whether Criscito starts. If he does then Marchisio might start on the left but I believe Lippi is leaning towards playing him in a more central role.


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