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Azzurri: The Don Busts Out His "B" Squad, Sends His Best Mid To JV

daniele-de-rossi.jpgFirst let's get this out of the way:

Azzurri boss Roberto Donadoni is already looking forward to Italy’s Euro 2008 qualifier with Scotland and knows that failure is not an option.

"It is just like the World Cup Final and a whole year’s work will come down to 90 minutes," the ex-Livorno tactician admitted."

No, it's a game in Scotland. Not Berlin. Getting yourself in a position to say a game against fucking Scotland(!) is your WC Final makes this tenure an utter disaster. He does realize this is the Azzurri he's coaching, right? This isn't Luxembourg. How depressing. That statement illustrates everything wrong with the Roberto Donadoni Era.

South Africa Friendly

As I sit here writing this I'm watching Crash, which is one of the most sobering and important movies of recent years. It's also really depressing considering its social reflections. Almost as depressing as watching Roberto Donadoni march out onto the pitch for yet another game captaining the Azzurri ship. If Roberto Donadoni's Azzurri coaching career was a movie, it would be Requiem For A Dream (one of my top 2 favorites, which I should probably schedule bi-weekly sessions with a shrink to discuss). You just can't stop the downward cycle. It's destiny.

* - I was between Requiem and Rory O'Shea Was Here. Requiem won out because only heroin addicts would make some of the decisions Donadoni does.

So, in order to give the "big boys" some rest, The Don has unleashed the JV squad for the South Africa friendly, or, as I like to call it, the Italian U-25 All-Stars. Comprised mostly of youngsters looking earn either their first caps or a serious look for some extended time in meaningful games, as well as some vets coming off injury or looking to earn their own time. Oh, and Daniele De Rossi. The best midfielder in Serie A. Duh.

So, let's take a look at this roster of vets, neophytes, scallywags, philanderers and wannabe bushmen:

Gianluca Curci (Roma):
Supposed to get the start, and if he plays the entire game, he will equal the number of minutes he has played for Roma this season. Which is, uh, strange, but this kid is phenomenally gifted and just needs some composure and maturity before he challenges Sebastian Frey for Robin to Gigi's Batman in Serie A - where Gigi is the Christian Bale Batman, not George Clooney (welcome to the movie edition of the offside). Also, the life expectancy would jump about a decade in Rome with the immediate departure of "The Human Cardiac Arrest", Alexander Donieber.

Marco Amelia (Livorno):
Another Roman youth product and another really strange situation. His team, Livorno, to put it politely, fucking blows ass. Real bad. Which is not really his fault, but the fact that he has allowed 17 goals already is mildly alarming - seeing as how that could be an entire season for Gigi. So, uh, the two backups for Gigi are a) a 22 year old reserve for his club, and b) statistically the worst keeper in Serie A. Pray for Gigi's health. And world peace. But Gigi's health first.

* - Yeah yeah yeah, I know Abbiatti and De Sanctis are waiting in Spain somewhere, but these two are more important.

Cristian Zaccardo (Palermo):
He scored what was one of the most jaw-dropping goals in last year's World Cup. Only it was an own goal, and that signaled the end of his WC experience. Still, he's still young, and pretty damn good. His speed is a great asset down the touchline, and it will be nice to have a change from watching Massimo Oddo cross the ball towards Pluto. If he plays well enough, he may earn a few "real" call ups soon.

Giandomenico Mesto (Udinese):
Versatile choice who has been pretty good for Udinese this season (at least in the minimal sample I've seen). His one great deciding factor which may assist him in getting a serious look is his ability to play RW as well, with wings one of the weakest positions on the list of potential Azzurri members. Not that it matters, with Donadoni's Cialis-induced unrelenting hard-on for deep lying CMs. You know the type that they say, "if you have an erection lasting more than 36 hours, call your doctor". Look, if you have an erection lasting 36 hours, call the Guiness Book of World Records first. Your doctor can wait.

* - You know, I failed to think about this, but with The Don being a former left winger, the one time in the last 6 months he played with a true wing set, the France game, he only played with a right wing, not a left. Either he is a cocky fucktard (probable) who doesn't think anybody is capable of playing towards his own standards and therefore the LW spot is being left vacant in memory of his greatness, or he has some deep-seeded self-loathing psychological issues. If so, maybe he and I should schedule a group session and I can tackle that whole Requiem thing (I've actually got the reasoning down - I'm cool, no issues here. Well, there is that three legged giraffe from Jupiter under my bed that tells me I should dress like a clown, become a dental hygienist and rename myself Pam.)

Daniele Bonera (Milan):
I don't want to know what's going on during that train ride from Parma to Milan, but it seems to be ruining potentially great careers. First Gila, now Bonera, whose last year plus could probably be described as "sloppy". Supposedly improving, but not enough. You'd think learning from Maldini, Nesta and Costacurta in practice every day would help.....

Alessandro Gamberini (Fiorentina):
He gets up the field well for a CB, and he's a quality squad member who could earn a regular reserve role one of these days, especially with Canna, Panucci and The Matrix's hour glasses running long, and no CB prospects on the immediate horizon (the best option is still Marco Andreolli, but he's still a long way from getting garbage minutes in an early round Coppa match for Roma - of course, as Curci has shown, that doesn't mean jack). This game may go a long way in determining his future call ups.

Canna, The Other One (Napoli):
The Other Cannavaro is only 26 (shocking, I know), and despite being a U-21 stalwart, has yet to make his senior debut. I suspect he'll get some late minutes, but his time to prove he belongs on the permanent list of considerations will be with Napoli, not against South Africa. Still, what's an Azzurri team without that patented Cannavaro mega-watt grin? Nothing. Too bad Fabio couldn't be named just to get a 10 second cameo with his bro. I can only imagine how special forming a partnership in central defense for the national team with your brother in the same game must be. One for the ages. Maybe some day. And yes, Paolo would cry.

Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus):
The Schnoz, as he will be known in these waters from here on out, is playing for a regular spot with the big boys. Many (many many) will argue his eventual seat is in central defense. May be true, but for now he could be a decent backup option in the rotating door which has been the LB position under The Don.

Andrea Dossena (Udinese):
Listen, when this is your reaction to being called up...

“I was told on Saturday afternoon that I may be included, but I didn’t really believe it at first. Then the official call arrived and it was great. This is a beautiful and pleasing surprise for me.”

...then you probably don't belong. But I'm all for throwing guys a bone in meaningless friendlies. Also, I'm ballparking the number of LBs during The Don's tenure at 4,723.

Angelo Palombo (Sampdoria):
He's kinda like the kid who's been at the party for the last few hours, but has just kind of been sitting on a couch in the corner observing things for awhile until somebody comes over and says, "Hey, when the hell did you get here?". The Don obviously likes him, but he has all that disgusting midfield talent breathing down his neck. What happens in this game is likely moot. He'll be on the outside looking in the window for a long time.

Riccardo Montolivo (Fiorentina):
The Phenom. He's just playing to determine whether he's engraving his name in marble into the starting XI in the near future or the near-er future. The end.

Antonio Nocerino (Juventus):
Ask a Rubentus fan about Antonio and they'll tell you he's the second coming of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Ask someone else and they'll say "get in line, young'un". He'll be a regular call up eventually, but how much more is questionable (best guess is on the bubble of that starting XI for most of his career - less about him and more a testament to the disgusting amount of talent running through the Italian midfield pipeline at the moment - this list including DDR, Rosina and Montolivo is devoid of names like Aquilani, Dessena, Cigarini, Russotto, Cerci, etc etc etc). And his chances will improve exponentially if he can avoid being hit by automobiles.

Daniele De Rossi (Roma):
Listen, I'm not even going here. You gave him the #10, he's the best midfielder you have at your disposal (Pirlo fills a role like few in the world, but he's very limited in certain areas), treat him accordingly. Hopefully he doesn't see the field so he's ready and rested for Roma's 2 games in 3 days coming up - but wait, he's got the armband, so no gift from The Don.

Franco Semioli (Fiorentina):
He of offensive facial hair has been recalled, and it's nice to see some wingers actually under consideration. He actually may have a chance to make a dent for himself, but then again, he isn't a CM.

Pasquale Foggia (Cagliari):
Will likely miss the game, but he would've had to do a lot more for me to say he deserves to be called up for the Scotland game. He's just not ready.

Alessandro Rosina (Torino):
He's like the guy who has that smoking hot girl friend, who's just that: a friend. She has a dickhead boyfriend who consistently disappears at night and as everyone knows, it's with other, sluttier girls. Rosinaldo consistently sits with her at night, listens to her problems, makes her feel comfortable and better about herself and puts in all the work that the bf should, but can never evolve past friend. Every night she sends him home with a hug and the dreaded, "you're easy to talk to". Until one night the bf is off somewhere picking up a third world STD from some Puerto Rican chick (big ups Puerto Rico!), and Rosinaldo comes over to console her and she realizes that she has been an idiot all along and that he is the one she should be with. So he ends up spending the night and they live happily ever after (and score many many goals together). The end.

In all seriousness, if Rosinaldo isn't on this list for Scotland and the Faroe Islands I'll get all up in arms. Then what, I don't know. But I'll be angry while doing it.

Stefano Mauri (Lazio):
Rumor has it he stepped on the field in Genoa, but you could've fooled me. More a testament to the scarcity of wings in the peninsula than anything else. If the Azzurri either, a) were at full strength, or b) had a coach who had a solitary brain cell roaming around in his skull, he'd be a distant thought.

Vincenzo Iaquinta (Juventus):
Out, the end.

Cristiano Lucarelli (Shakhtar Donetsk):
The big commie will see his time, but as soon as Talentino, Gila, Pazzini, Pelle, Palladino, etc etc etc either progress or start to get a clue, he can buy up permanent residence in Ukraine. His performances in the shirt thus far make "dismal" look like butterflies and cupcakes.

Alberto Gilardino (Milan):
Remember this guy? He scored an assload of goals for Parma, started the WC at 23, then dove into oblivion in Milan until that swell little trip to the evil side of the Olimpico a couple weeks ago. Unfortunately, he is one of the great hopes for this team, because they still don't have a consistently very good striker to partner with Lucagol, and that is something they could desperately use while the kids are still sucking on the teat of the calcio breast. He, along with Cassano, is supposed to be one of the next generation's great hopes. All we can do at this point is pray he starts bagging goals galore. (And could we get him out of Milan, please. The last thing we need is one of the Azzurri potential striking greats learning from Pippo.)

Predicted XI:

Zaccardo, Gamberini, Bonera, Chiellini;
Semioli, Nocerino, De Rossi, Montolivo;
Gila, Lucarelli.

I have no clue, nor do I really care. The only things I care about are a) that DDR and Curci don't get hurt, and that b) Montolivo and Rosinaldo do enough that The Don gets a freaking clue and calls them up with regularity in the near future. Other than that, I could care less if Benny McCarthy bags 81 goals and the South Africans put up three digits. But, I'm going to go with a 4-0 Azzurri victory. The kids and vets fighting for time will probably take this one seriously - they have something to win here.

De Rossi Praises Scotland, Or Not

“In my opinion, Scotland will never be at our level,” the Roma star scoffed. “Failing to qualify would be serious, but I think we have the personnel to succeed.

“It’s not as difficult as people say – all we have to do is win in Scotland. I’m still hoping that Georgia could stop them and save us the trouble though.”

Them's fightin' words.