Former AC Milan defender, Massimo Oddo, believes that it is absurd to blame Italy’s World Cup failure on striker, Mario Balotelli.
The Azzurri were knocked out of the World Cup after losing 1-0 to Uruguay on Tuesday, with blame for Italy’s poor run in the competition being heaped solely on Balotelli.
The 23-year-old supposedly had a bust-up with manager Cesare Prandelli at half-time with the four-time World Cup winners only needing a point to secure their position in the last-16. As a result of the heated affair, Prandelli decided to replace the former Manchester City striker with Ciro Immobile, who until then had only won three caps for the Azzurri, at half-time.
This has ultimately led to accusations that Balotelli decided to give up on the tournament at half-time, leaving his team-mates to slump to an embarrassing defeat and a first round exit. Instead of projecting the anger around Prandelli and his back-room staff ,who openly admitted that they had indeed got it wrong, the Italian public have demanded that Balotelli should never play for Italy again after his Brazilian affair.
Despite scoring the winner in Italy’s 2-1 victory over England in the first game of Group C, he was a lonely figure in their 1-0 slump to Costa Rica five days later before imploding against Uruguay when it really mattered.
It was a team failure
Despite many of his countryman brandishing Balotelli as a traitor of the highest calibre, Oddo, who won the World Cup with Italy in 2006, believes that no one should be singled out for their second consecutive group stage exit.
He said: “Balotelli? If things go badly it’s absurd to think that it’s only one person’s fault. It’s horrible to hear of people attacking a team-mate.
“You should only be talking about things like that within the changing room. You shouldn't attack teammates outside the changing room.”
New generation needed
Instead the 38-year-old, who won 34 caps for Italy between 2002-2008, believes that the Azzurri must once again start afresh after being knocked in the group stages for a third time in their last four World Cup appearances.
He said: “It’s a World Cup which has gone badly, now is the time to change in order to start again in a new way. We need to change and revolutionise everything.”
Prandelli, who took over from veteran Marcello Lippi in 2010 following Italy’s group exit at the World Cup in South Africa, has ended his four year stint after he followed in the footsteps of his predecessor, and at this moment in time it is unknown who the new manager will be.
As a result, Oddo believes that the Italian Football Federation should take the opportunity to inject youth into the management, with the 38 year old stating that the time is ripe to revamp the national team in order for the nation to be a success in future tournaments to come.
He said: “Our football is a type of football which is linked to politics, so we need young people who know the world of football well. We need new ideas that will enable us to get back close to other teams.”
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