to Italian football, rebuilding or downgrading

On Tuesday, March 29, in Konya, Turkey, the Italian team will play one of the most meaningless football matches in their history. Tifosi, however, hoped for something other than this meeting between losers, without games, against the Turks. Beaten (1-0), on Thursday 24 March in Palermo by Northern Macedonia, 67th nation in the rankings of the International Football Association (FIFA), Azzurri was eliminated from qualifying for the World Cup 2022 (from 21 November to 18 December) , as in 2018 against Sweden. Northern Macedonians and Portuguese, Turkey’s executioners, will fight for a single ticket to Qatar.

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The return to the ground for the Italian team is fierce. Following its triumph in the 2006 World Cup final against the French team in Berlin, Squadra Azzura will miss this competition for the second time in a row.

The euro, just a clearing at night

Meanwhile, the Nazionale has certainly played two finals in the European Championship. One lost to Spain, in 2012, the other won against England during the last Euro, in 2021. This success had also heralded a revival of Italian football. But it seems rather to this day that it was only a simple clearing at night. And downgrading awaits.

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This is the analysis made by Arrigo Sacchi, the legendary AC Milan coach from the late 1980s: “What happened in Palermo against Northern Macedonia is what has happened for twelve years with our clubs. Since 2010 and Inter’s Champions League victory [Milan]we no longer earn anything in Europe ”he explained Gazzetta dello Sport, 25th of March.

The more the years go by, the more this success for Interists resembles the last stand of an Italian championship, Serie A, king in the years 1980-1990, but which is struggling to regain its splendor. This season, seven Italian clubs were involved in the initial stages of the various European competitions. There is no one left in the quarter-finals of the Champions League; only Atalanta and Roma still appear at this stage in the second and third row competitions of the Europa League and Europa League Conference.

Also read: Football: Italy must attack again to participate in the 2022 World Cup

Arrigo Sacchi is not the only one pointing to the responsibility of Serie A clubs in the current downturn in Italian football. On the sidelines of Italy-Northern Macedonia, Gabriele Gravina, President of the Italian Football Federation, lamented “great opposition from the clubs »: “I’m not saying they are responsible for this defeat, he explained to Rai, but there is an undeniable lack of players to make a choice worthy of the name, compared to other countries. »

Half-heartedly, Gabriele Gravina regrets that Italian clubs are more interested in their own interests than in the future of national football. His showdown with Andrea Agnelli’s Juventus – one of the masterminds behind the dissident Super League project in the Champions League – which he once again threatened to“Exclusion from Serie A” in the columns of The Republic if the project took shape, it demonstrates.

64% of the minutes played in Serie A are played by non-Italian players

The lack of domestic talent is a striking reality in Italian football. In August 2021, the International Center for Sports Studies (CIES) unveiled a ranking of football players under the age of 20 who had gathered the most experience in official matches during the 2021 season: no transalpine player was in the top 100.

“In Spain, England, but also in Germany and France, young people play more than in Italy”, emphasizes Nicolo Fagioli, Italian international hope. “If a young customer makes his debut for a big club, and if he makes a mistake in one or two games, he is immediately under the fire of criticism.”adds the young player from Juventus Turin, who is currently on loan at Cremonese (Serie B) to find playing time there.

If there is no room in the elite for these young Italian talents, it is because a majority of the clubs prefer to bet on seasoned foreign players. Between 2017 and 2022, the number of non-Italian players present in the top class of transalpine competitions increased from 292 to 368, as indicated by Sky Sports, while the number of locals decreased from 241 to 213 representatives. In total, almost 64% of the total number of minutes played in Serie A is played by non-Italian players.

During its success against Bayern Munich (2-0) in the Champions League final in 2010, Inter Milan did not already have any Italian player in their starting line-up. Today, Italian football seeks to respond to this lack of national “know-how” by, in particular, moving forward with the naturalization of players.

Coach Roberto Mancini thinks he will stay

Once the recognition of failure has been established, the shortcomings of training have been identified, Italian football will have to quickly return to working order to try to stop this ongoing downgrade. In the immediate future, despite the humiliation, Roberto Mancini should retain his position as coach and his place on the bench at Nazionale.

This is what the interested party, which is under contract with the Italian federation until 2026, suggested: “I spoke in recent days with President Gravina, we are in line with everything. (…) Why do I think I can stay? Because I’m young, and with these guys, I think I can still have fun. “said the former Sampdoria striker from Coverciano’s base camp on Monday (March 28).

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A rejuvenation of the workforce must be expected, and it is not excluded that aging leaders (Giorgio Chiellini, Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne), who are in their thirties, will gradually disappear from the starting line-up.

From an economic point of view, however, the committee can see coming. A partnership was announced on March 9 with equipment manufacturer Adidas: it was to enter into force in 2023, and according to the Reuters agency, it was to bring in 35 million euros a year for the Squadra Azzurra. Same observation for Serie A clubs: television broadcasting rights have been negotiated for almost € 1 billion a year until 2024. However, it is difficult to predict the impact of poor club performance. Italians at European level and those of selection in international competitions. In any case, La Botte has applied to host the European Championships in … 2032. Before then, Italian football should have solved its problems.

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