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Italy must improve defensively

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Italy and defence are words regularly associated together -  usually for all the right reasons. 

The Italians are known for their solid and strong back-line, where they rely heavily on a defensive system to win key games. 

However, in the Confederations Cup, Italy have, so far, conceded eight goals in just three matches.

Gianluigi Buffon picked up the ball from the net four times against Brazil in their final group game. 

The only time he had done the same thing was during the Euro 2012 Final against Spain – who make the Italians semi-final opponent on Thursday evening. 

We couldn’t really blame Buffon when Brazil’s first goal was obviously offside and he has made several remarkable saves, but fans will probably expect more from one the greatest goalkeepers of all time.

Giorgio Chiellini is Italy’s main defender of the moment, but he has been sloppy in the past two matches. A few times he collided with his teammates when trying to clear the ball, which notably resulted in Shinji Kagawa’s beautiful half-volley in the 4-3 win over Japan. 

He has made a few good clearances, but he did not look like leading the defence line. Instead, he confused himself when the opponent was attacking.

Andrea Barzagli did well in the first match against Mexico, albeit conceding a penalty. 

Yet like the rest of the team, he suffered a lot against Japan. One of Serie A’s best defenders looked lost as the Japanese pressed forward.

Leonardo Bonucci looked slightly better when he took his Juventus teammate’s place against Brazil, but a few times he had trouble marking Brazil’s forwards when the Selecao enforced counter-attacks.

Ignazio Abate had been performing steadily throughout the three matches, but a collision with Neymar tonight made him dislocate his shoulder and he is ruled out of the tournament now.

Christian Maggio, Italy’s reserve right-back, is more experienced and crosses better than Abate. He also defended well in today’s match, intercepting Brazil’s attack a few times. 

Yet Cesare Prandelli usually picks Abate over him because he is not used to a four-man defence line. He plays as a right-wing-back in Napoli, but looks to be performing better now that he knows when to go back to the defence line.

Mattia De Sciglio has had a mixed performance so far. While he helped in attacking and occasionally made good interceptions, a few times he was so nervous that he lost possession and directly let his opponent stage counter-attacks. 

It was also his weak pass that cost Italy the penalty in the match against Japan. He looked uncertain when the opponent was pressing on him, and Chiellini and Alberto Aquilani, who should be helping him on the left, seldom offered their hands.

Conceding eight goals in three matches may be a new record for a team known for its solid defence. They could certainly blame it on the humid weather or the poor pitch condition, and even questionable decisions from referees. But still, they could do much better defensively.

With the semi-final against Spain coming up, Prandelli will have to figure out how to contain the firepower of the strongest national team on earth.

Italy must sort out their defensive problems very quickly or they will, no doubt, be heading home from the Confederations Cup. 

 

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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