It’s been awhile since we’ve seen Alessandro Florenzi in the azzurro of the Italian national team. In fact, it’s been a little over 13 months since he played in Italy’s 1-1 qualifying draw against Spain in October 2016. This prolonged absence was thanks to the knee injury that Roma fans are all too familiar with.
However, thanks to the fine form that he’s displayed with Roma since his return from injury the season, Ale is back with the Azzurri. Florenzi was named to the 27 man squad called up by Gian Piero Ventura for Italy’s pivotal home-and-home playoff with Sweden which will determine if the Azzurri will participate in the 2018 World Cup.
Despite his long absence from the National Team, I would argue that Florenzi needs to start these make or break games. Ventura needs to start his best 11 and I would argue the Florenzi is one of them, especially if Ventura decides to play with a four man back line. We’ve seen Ventura use both a three man and four man back line over the course of the last year or so and Florenzi can fit either system for the former Torino boss.
That being said, I’ll focus on Florenzi’s role in a four man back line since Ventura has favored that set up more often during his tenure. If he opts to go in this direction against Sweden then I’d argue that Florenzi is currently Italy’s best option at right back.
Ale is not a natural right back and only started playing the position a few years ago to fill a need for Roma. However, since he took one for the team and filled the position back in 2014, he has become much more than a fill in at the position. He continues to play the position for Roma to this day and not just because Roma have nobody else to play there; albeit they currently don’t with Karsdorp and Peres injured.
In fact, performances like the one that he put in against Chelsea recently speak volumes about how he’s developed into a true two way right back. He kept Edin Hazard, one of Europe’s more dangerous wingers quiet while pushing forward offensively and putting pressure on the left side of the Chelsea defense. He can give Italy the same kind of two way contribution that I believe they’ve really lacked of late.
Looking at the current roster there are certainly more natural fits at right back. I mean Florenzi is listed as a midfielder on the Italy roster; his more natural position. There are players like Matteo Darmian of Manchester United and Davide Zappacosta of Chelsea who are natural, talented defenders in their own right. The problem with both of them is neither has found much playing time in England this season. That’s a concern. Can Ventura afford to play one of them without much game time under their belts in recent months? I’d say no. This is because Florenzi who is match fit and in better form available.
The other option on the roster would be Inter’s Danilo D’ambrosio who is off to a fine start to the season himself. However, D’ambrosio has only played in one game for Italy; a friendly against the Dutch back in March. As good as D’ambrosio has been this season, can Ventura afford to start him in his most meaningful games as coach with so little national team experience? I’d say it’s a bit risky. The experience factor coupled with his fine form makes Ale the best option at right back in a traditional four man back line.
Who is Italy’s best option at right back in a four man back line?
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