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Mould Italy on Milan
13.6 || scharatz

Author: Susy Campanale of Channel 4's Football Italia


Milan have one of the best midfields in Europe, but Giovanni Trapattoni is the one man who doesn't know it.

So much has been said of Trap’s brave decision to dump the defensive tendencies and opt for an attacking line-up, but the 4-4-2 does not automatically lead to a dour display of football. Milan have shown over the last two years that the system can be tweaked to provide creativity and goals in abundance, all the time maintaining a solid back line.

Anyone who witnessed the Scudetto winners this season will find it astonishing that Andrea Pirlo and Gennaro Gattuso do not warrant a place in the starting line-up of the Italy squad. These are players envied the world over and, despite his Cro-Magnon man demeanour, Gattuso has improved a great deal in terms of technique and temperament.

In fact, Rino is a far preferable choice for midfield digger compared to Cristiano ‘Yellow Card’ Zanetti, a man with an infinitely worse disciplinary record and quite frankly not much improvement on his passing.

Zanetti managed to notch up eight bookings in 19 appearances during a Serie A season he spent mostly on the sidelines with a series of injuries, while Gattuso led Milan to Scudetto glory with just two yellow cards to his name. Where the former Rangers man is passionate, his counterpart is all too often merely thuggish and slow.

As for Simone Perrotta, the Chievo star is your classic hard worker who is not particularly blessed with inspirational searching passes for the forwards. Pirlo has made that deep midfield role his very own and proved so important in lifting the Champions’ League, Scudetto, European Supercup and Coppa Italia over the last two years. How can Trap possibly leave him on the bench?

The veteran tactician goes back to the old adage of balance, claiming that Francesco Totti cannot share the field with another creative player. In that case, one wonders how Carlo Ancelotti – a mere slip of a Coach compared to the grand old master of Italian football – managed to construct a successful side with Pirlo, Kaka’, Andriy Shevchenko, Pippo Inzaghi, Giuseppe Pancaro, Clarence Seedorf and Marcos Cafu in the same starting eleven?

Gianluca Zambrotta is born to bomb forward from the full-back position, but the choice of Christian Panucci ahead of the more inspired Massimo Oddo only highlights Trapattoni’s intentions. The reason he has refused to even experiment with Milan’s system is that it would be too attacking for his conservative tastes.

Yet for once these two factors could combine for something positive. Trap – and Under-21 Coach Claudio Gentile – always drift back towards a 4-4-2 the moment they qualify for a tournament anyway, so they may as well make it an entertaining take on their usual approach.

Keep Alessandro Del Piero out wide on the left, push Francesco Totti closer to Christian Vieri, where he is effective anyway as shown by his 20 goals for Roma this season, and give Zambrotta and Oddo free reign to push forward. Trap had every chance to experiment in a series of meaningless friendlies, but there’s still time to go for a system that mixes creativity with consistency. It’s not too late for Italy to shine.

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