Azzurri call-ups for Euro 2008 qualifier vs. Georgia

Italy coach Roberto Donadoni has revealed the list of 22 for the match against Georgia next week-end, for the Euro 2008 qualifiers. The Italian coach is left to face with many absences due to injury or suspension, and also made some tactical choices that will leave much room for discussion in the days to come.

Riccardo Montolivo, age 22The biggest news in the list is the first call-up of Riccardo Montolivo. The Fiorentina midfielder has had some outstanding games lately, which eventually caught the eye of the Italian coach. Two notable returns to the group are also Daniele Bonera (Milan) and Stefano Mauri (Lazio). Pasquale Foggia (Cagliari) and Christian Panucci (Roma) have also been confirmed.

In the absentee list by Donadoni’s choice, a search for the most prestigious name points to Alessandro Del Piero, who evidently had his wish of ‘being-called-up-as-a-striker-or-not-be-called-up-at-all’ granted. Milan striker Filippo Inzaghi was also left out, perhaps due to his not-so-brilliant moment with his club team. Other absentees include captain Fabio Cannavaro (suspended), as well as Marco Materazzi, Gianluca Zambrotta, Mauro Camoranesi, Alberto Aquilani and Simone Perrotta.

Here’s the full list:

Goalkeepers: Amelia (Livorno), Buffon (Juventus), Curci (Roma)
Defenders: Barzagli (Palermo), Bonera (Milan), Chiellini (Juventus), Gamberini (Fiorentina), Grosso (Lyon), Oddo (Milan), Panucci (Roma)
Midfielders: Ambrosini (Milan), De Rossi (Roma), Gattuso (Milan), Mauri (Lazio), Montolivo (Fiorentina), Pirlo (Milan)
Forwards: Di Natale (Udinese), Foggia (Cagliari), Iaquinta (Juventus), Lucarelli (Shakhtar Donetsk), Quagliarella (Udinese), Toni (Bayern Munich).

My comments

Meh… I’m not entirely convinced on the exclusion of Del Piero, but after all if the Juve player himself says that he can’t play at any other position than striker, it’s best for everyone involved that Donadoni leave him at home if he doesn’t plan to use him in that role. Still no Alessandro Rosina, despite the good matches the Torino player displayed… I sincerely hope his time will come eventually.

As for who will Donadoni pick as his starting line-up, that’s a toughie (especially in defense). We can (almost) safely assume the coach will got with his usual 4-2-3-1 formation (the contrary would greatly surprise me). 

In defense, Barzagli is an obvious choice for center-back, but who will team up with the Palermo player? Donadoni could go with naturals here, namely Bonera or Gamberini. Or he could reconvert Chiellini, because the Juve left-back has been playing a good amount of games in a center role lately. Panucci could revert to the middle as well if needed. The left side is a little less ambiguous, because the only two choices are Grosso or Chiellini, and Grosso hasn’t been playing particularly well for Lyon lately. My guess is that Chiellini will start left-back, and Panucci will play center. On the right wing, the utilization of Oddo is at 99% certainty.

In midfield, if Donadoni does anything like the match against Ukraine, he’ll keep his club-pairs together, namely that’s Pirlo-Gattuso as defensive mids. Ambrosini has been playing really well too and deserves to start, but I’d say the coach will pick De Rossi over the Milan player for an offensive mid role. It’s hard to say if Montolivo or Mauri will get an apperance, but I doubt it.

Up front, I predict an attacking trio with Toni the obvious and imperative choice as the lone striker (if Luca plays with even half of his scoring efficiency at Bayern, Italy are all good). To help him on the wings should be Di Natale (left) and Iaquinta (right), no room I’m afraid for Quagliarella (poor form), Foggia, or Lucarelli.

Here’s my predicted line-up:

Italy-Georgia predicted formations

The team will all gather on Monday before 8:00pm in Coverciano, and begin practice sessions Tuesday at 10:30am.

Posted in Azzurri, Euro 2008 |

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  • 3 Responses to “Azzurri call-ups for Euro 2008 qualifier vs. Georgia”

    1. [...] Italy will face Georgia next weekend for the Euro 2008 qualifiers. This is a must-win game for Donadoni, in order to secure a place for next year Championship. [...]

    2. Martha says:

      Panucci as a centerback always makes me nervous, since it’s not his natural position. Though I’ve not actually seen it happen, I gather Bonera’s been playing well — would it be a completely insane risk to play him alongside Barzagli instead of Panucci?

    3. Well I suppose Martha.

      I was of the idea that if Chiellini could play center-back, so would Panucci (he’s done it before I think). Then again, Chiellini’s a lot younger and more ‘bendable’ so-to-speak to new roles, Panucci’s well over 30… so in that light it might not be the best idea to put him in a new position.

      It’s hard to guess who Donadoni will pick in defense in the end… the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced he’ll put Chiellini in the center and give Grosso a starting role (despite the average performances at Lyon). That, or use Bonera like you said (but I’m still not convinced the latter had enough playing time with Milan, despite Maldini’s injury).