Rising Italy could be unbeatable in years to come

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    Inter Milan's Mario Balotelli celebrates after scoring, during the Serie A soccer match between Juventus and Inter Milan at the Olympic Stadium in Turin, Italy, Saturday, April 18 2009. AP Photo/Alberto Ramella

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    With Spain having a team in its prime, it’s no surprise they are hard to beat. But to say their form is sustainable is laughable.

    One of the best young players in the world, Isco, has only made one appearance for the national team, despite the fact that in the next few years, he will have to be a pivotal part of the team.

    The team ranked fifth in the FIFA rankings however has a very different future ahead, and here’s why.

    El Shaarawy. Verratti. Balotelli. Santon. All of these players are known around the world already and all have an average age of 21 and have 36 International games between them.

    But these players are the tip of the iceberg of a number of superstars Italy has coming through its ranks and playing in the national team.

    Here is a look at how the potential future world number one team could line-up its players:

    Goalkeeper

    Mattia Perin
    Age: 20
    Club: Pescara
    Caps: 0

    At such a tender age, Perin has been one of the shining stars in Pescara’s horror Serie A campaign.

    He has received a call-up to the national team and despite not making an appearance, he is certainly an ideal replacement for Italy’s current legendary goalkeeper, Gianluigi Buffon.

    Right back

    Mattia De Sciglio
    Age: 20
    Club: Milan
    Caps: 2

    He can play on the left, or the right and is being talked up as the new Maldini.

    Playing on the right, he can cross with incredible ability and playing on the left, he cuts inside in order to cross.

    So far in both his Italian appearances he has played on the left, while Maggio and Abate dominate the right.

    However both will hold little competition of De Sciglio in the next few years.

    Centre back

    Andrea Ranocchia
    Age: 25
    Club: Inter
    Caps: 9

    He will certainly be a one of the senior members of the squad but in every squad experience is needed.

    He will certainly be one of the best defenders in Italy in the next few years and should has been a great force for the Inter Milan defence this season.

    He currently competes with many players for a start but with many of those players ageing, he should become an integral part of the squad soon.

    Centre back

    Angelo Ogbonna
    Age: 24
    Club: Torino
    Caps: 5

    Although he is playing for Torino, a mid-table team, he is could break into the starting eleven for almost every team in the league.

    Targeted by the likes of Milan and with a price tag of €20 million placed on a transfer for him, it is no surprise he will be a big part of Italy’s future.

    He is strong and powerful and will be an asset for Italy in the years to come.

    Left back

    Davide Santon
    Age: 22
    Club: Newcastle United
    Caps: 8

    If he plays his cards right, Santon could regain the promise he had during his Inter Milan days.

    A transfer to Milan is a possibility and he could reap the benefits. He has great ability and has had more than 35 appearances for Newcastle this season.

    His form is promising and could prove to be extremely useful in the years to come.

    Defensive midfield

    Andrea Poli
    Age: 23
    Club: Sampdoria
    Caps: 2

    Poli is playing well. And although he has had only two caps, his competition is ageing.

    He has played 22 Serie A games despite an injury during the early stages of Sampdoria’s campaign.

    He is being targeted by Juventus and could really be a pivotal of that team despite its current midfield composition.

    Centre midfield

    Marco Verratti
    Age: 20
    Club: PSG
    Caps: 3

    Even with only three caps playing in the midfield, he has still managed to score a goal. He has an amazing ability and is a starting XI player at PSG despite it having some of the best players in the world.

    Originally from Pescara several Italian teams could not secure his signature before PSG and the French team are now reaping the benefits of his incredible ability.

    Centre midfield

    Alessandro Florenzi
    Age: 22
    Club: Roma
    Caps: 2

    Even at just 22 he is a starting eleven player for Roma. He has played over 1800 minutes for Roma this season, scoring four goals. He has been a part of the Italian under 21 team, scoring two goals for them.

    Within his club he competes with the likes of Daniele De Rossi and Miralem Pjanic, regularly lining up beside them.

    A few more starts for the national team and he will become very valuable property for Roma.

    Right wing

    Mattia Destro
    Age: 22
    Club: Roma
    Caps: 4

    Even with two injures this season that put him out for several games, Destro has racked up an impressive total of games for Roma.

    He has great ability to play anywhere across the front line and has played in many positions along that line.

    He is playing with great maturity for his age and would complement Balotelli and El Shaarawy well.

    Striker

    Mario Balotelli
    Age: 22
    Club: Milan
    Caps: 19

    Eight goals in eight games since returning to Italy, he has no only regained his on-field form but also kept his off-field antics to a bare minimum.

    He has a great power and ability to him and has really helped Milan fight for a Champions League spot next season.

    He has racked up an impressive amount of appearances for Italy and really is one of the best strikers in the world when he’s on form.

    He and El Shaarawy are working well for Milan and should reciprocate that for the national team.

    Left wing

    Stephan El Shaarawy
    Age: 20
    Club: Milan
    Caps: 6

    If you were to nominate the greatest players under the age of 21 in the world at the moment, El Shaarawy would without a doubt be on the list.

    Even as a left winger he has racked up an impressive goal tally.

    After the arrival of Balotelli, he has turned provider, scoring less but putting in impressive displays none-the-less.

    He is really an exciting prodigy and his abilities to play in Europe with no fear puts him in a higher league than the likes of Neymar, who has yet to prove himself against quality opposition.

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    The Crowd Says (11)

    • March 28th 2013 @ 10:21am
      Matt F said | March 28th 2013 @ 10:21am | ! Report

      How much do Milan have to spend in the summer? I can assure them that we won’t be giving Santon away on the cheap! News overnight is that Newcastle have turned a profit for the last year so we’re in a position to demand big money.

    • March 28th 2013 @ 10:57am
      nordster said | March 28th 2013 @ 10:57am | ! Report

      Have De Sciglio in my FIFA career team, awesome crossing stats and growth rate 🙂
      Thats about as far as i pay attention to Euro players these days lol…

    • March 28th 2013 @ 11:00am
      Brian said | March 28th 2013 @ 11:00am | ! Report

      Italy cannot dominate like a Spain or Brazil because they do not play to dominate. They play defensive which keeps them eternally dangerous. Italy have had many successful teams of course 1982, 1994, 2006 but every time they succeed there is adulation the same old players are brought back and failure ensues.

      1982 Great team same players too old returned in 1986 and flopped
      2006 Great team same players too old returned in 2010 and flopped

    • March 28th 2013 @ 11:32am
      nickoldschool said | March 28th 2013 @ 11:32am | ! Report

      Agree, the Italians do have a great young squad these days. might be too early for 2014 but will be very competitive from 2016 onwards.

      Am a fan of Marco Verratti. Seems he has two engines, is very technical and is the perfect player to not only get possession but also launch attacks. He is PSG supporters new favourite son, hopefully for a long time.

      • Roar Pro

        March 28th 2013 @ 3:12pm
        William McInnes said | March 28th 2013 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

        As a Milan fan, I’m hoping he doesn’t stay at PSG too long!

    • March 28th 2013 @ 11:39am
      Damiano said | March 28th 2013 @ 11:39am | ! Report

      Good article. Veratti looks to have enormous potential. I’d suggest Luca Marrone & Ciro Immobile (both 23) could be useful subs for this team.

    • March 28th 2013 @ 12:48pm
      King Robbo said | March 28th 2013 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

      Gigi buffon will be hard to replace. You could see at the last world cup, the defence was less settled and seemed less confident without him. The fact serie A is not the biggest league in the world anymore helps. The majority of those in the current azzuri squad play for juve or milan which helps with cohesion and fluidity.

      Back in the 90s, while the Azzuri was a force, you had players from milan, inter, juve, roma, parma, fiorentina, sampdoria, lazio etc. They regularly underperformed at cups ie they may have progressed throughout tournaments but didnt play attractive football.

      • Roar Pro

        March 28th 2013 @ 3:17pm
        William McInnes said | March 28th 2013 @ 3:17pm | ! Report

        Buffon will not be replaceable. He is a legend. Even at such an age as he is now he saves Italy time and time again. I think Mattia Perin or Nicola Leali are the most likely to replace him. And I do find it quite funny that Milan and Juventus were the only teams represented in the starting lineup against Malta. Most other teams rely too heavily on international players.

        • March 28th 2013 @ 4:43pm
          King Robbo said | March 28th 2013 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

          Agree Buffon is irreplaceable. Its not that he just a good shot stopper, but is the general of the defence and calms things down when Italy are under pressure. I am a milan supporter as well, but must admit a measure of how good the azzurri are, is based on the number of italians in juve’s starting XI (minus the times they are in Serie B). The more the better obviously.

          I think the England national team has suffered since the boom period of the premier league as mentioned for the same reasons above. Players spread across too many teams. While the spanish team have endured a golden age due to half the team coming from Barcelona and the rest from Real Madrid.

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