Italy. The country where football and religion are the highest power. The two things are taken very seriously and if you ever have the luck of attending a game in Italy you will see that they truly treat football as a matter of life and death.
The thing i've noticed is that here at the Milan Offside, we are no different! Following an Italian club as well as the Azzurri has lead to us treating the game and results with the same level of frenzy & drama that could currently be witnessed in any sports bar in Rome or Milan, where every little detail & incident is reviewed with a fatalistic fervour and lots of hand gestures!
As well know Prandelli handed in his notice whilst most of us and Italy where still trying to gather our thoughts after the damp squib that was the loss to Uruguay and a part of me is still in shock that we aren't taking any further part in a World Cup that has been damned good with some excellent football being displayed. Here's a quick overview:
We beat the easiest team in the group with Hodgson handing us the keys to the midfield at the start of the match, some however read too much into this result and saw it as a sign of Prandelli out-coaching his English counterpart. Tbh, in Prandelli's defence, he at least had the balls & conviction to admit he got it wrong and stepped down HOW THE HELL IS HODGSON STILL IN A JOB??
The team we all assumed we would beat when the Groups were all drawn up (God how we got that wrong!) They proved that they were to be taken seriously with their super-efficient dismantling of Uruguay. Prandelli it appears didnt get the memo, it seemed to be a game that reminded me of Allegri's last few games in charge at Milan. A totally disinterested team that was wrongly set up. It was almost like Pranders was expecting a completely different Costa Rica team? He messed up royal and he knew it right after the game Prandelli: 'Italy were too slow'.
In a must win game we seemed to again look like we didnt know what we were doing. All we had to do was secure a draw, how hard was that? All the worlds gamblers would have put money on Italy easily getting a draw even a man down! In the end we witnessed one of the worst Azzurris for a while. Blame the ref etc all you want but at no point did we look like we knew what we were meant to be doing in that game, here's to hoping that the new coach takes a proper strike force next time!.
Personally i didnt like the fact that Prandelli was complaining about the heat in advance of the games, sorry but to me this sounded like someone looking for an excuse as he had doubts as to how well he was going to do and not something i want to hear from the Azzurri coach, it would have sounded better coming from someone like Hodgson! For some they could see baby steps being made under Prandelli, for others the writing was already on the wall with an Azzurri that was still to cash in a really big cheque, unfortunately it feels like Prandelli has left us exactly where he found us, clueless & leaderless!
When you look at where France, Germany and all the traditional footballing superpowers currently are it feels like we are completely out of the game at the moment. I suspect there will be still more introspection & recriminations to go before we can exorcise the disappointment of this World Cup.
Prandelli i have to respect, not for the choice in squad (lol no Giovinco? really?) or the formations & tactics that appeared to be in constant flux but for the fact that he immediately put his hands up and admitted that he messed up royal, for that you have to applaud him, if you think this is overly kind then bear in mind England where Hodgson is still in a job! As for Balo he let down himself, his family, Milanista & all Italy, in his defence the rest of the squad should all hang their heads in shame when they step off the plane upon their return to Italy as they all share the blame.
Verratti (that is all, move along).
Serie A maybe lumbering along like the poor man of Europe but I believe that we are still a genuine contender and with the right coach we can easily put in a decent showing in the Euro's, for which qualification begins in September (again you have to thank Prandelli for jumping as soon as he did to give the FIGC as much time as possible to find a good coach). The Prandelli era is over and it was largely a failure imo
Here's to the future!