Nice setting for Lippi's Italy Mark II debut
As second comings go it should be a pretty low-key affair.Marcello Lippi is back in charge of Italy and everyoneÃ¢ÂÂs favourite 60-year-old Paul Newman lookalike has named his squad for WednesdayÃ¢ÂÂs friendly With the country still officially closed for business for another couple of weeks, the match has been moved across the border to the elegant surroundings of Nice where the Italian football federation hope that at least someone will turn up to watch.The last time Lippi pinned up a team-sheet it was back in those heady summer days of 2006 and the Azzurri were top of the world.
Lippi: On top of the world, and Peruzzi's shoulders, in 2006
Well, time stands still for no man and in the intervening 24 months or so the Roberto Donadoni experiment failed so itÃ¢ÂÂs back to what we know.However, as he lit another cigar and pondered what was available compared to the World Cup there wasnÃ¢ÂÂt much Lippi could do to liven things up.No Alessandro Nesta or Francesco Totti, both retired from the international scene, although the Roma man could well be having second thoughts as he gets a whiff of the winner back in charge.And Lippi couldnÃ¢ÂÂt turn to the next generation such as Sebastian Giovinco, Riccardo Montolivo and Giuseppe Rossi were all at the Olympics: no medals this time as the young Italians were controversially (isnÃ¢ÂÂt it always the way) eliminated by Belgium.So surveying the scene of the pre-season training camps and with only Juventus, Fiorentina and Napoli in serious competitive action, the old boy has played it safe and decided he will enjoy a relaxed evening on the Cote dÃ¢ÂÂAzur.No place then for Antonio Cassano who Lippi doesnÃ¢ÂÂt believe can fit into his game plan and for all his fancy flicks is a lazy so and so, unwilling to track back as the coach insinuated when he drew comparisons with Italian frontmen and Wayne Rooney.
Cry baby Cassano: No longer part of Lippi's plans
ItÃ¢ÂÂs definitely the end for Christian Panucci whose past run-ins with the Ã¢ÂÂmisterÃ¢ÂÂ at Inter have made the Roma defender persona non grata.There was no room for Christian Maggio who the press had been clamouring for inclusion, but whose club Napoli had been informed he needs to be converted to a right-back to wear the Azzurri.A case of country before club and reminiscent of when Juventus switched Gianluca Zambrotta from right-back to left-back to Ã¢ÂÂhelpÃ¢ÂÂ the national side out after the 2002 World Cup.There may have a case for a couple of Napoli players to have been drafted in: itÃ¢ÂÂs not as if they are all South Americans in the light blue.Central defender Fabiano Santacroce, who missed out on the trip to Beijing due to a four-game ban for a red card playing with the Under-21s could have done with the experience despite the fact that he has just recovered from injury.Instead of which, we have Daniele Bonera - the perpetual stand-by - and Roma reserve Marco Cassetti, and what can be gained by their inclusion?Andrea Dossena had to move to Liverpool to get noticed but at least he can pick up some parmesan for the missus when heÃ¢ÂÂs back home for day or so.
Dossena: Finally on the Azzurri radar following Liverpool move
No arguments in midfield and attack where itÃ¢ÂÂs back to the future apart from SampdoriaÃ¢ÂÂs Angelo Palombo who was discarded by Donadoni after four appearances.ThereÃ¢ÂÂs little to be said about Alessandro Del Piero who will probably be part of the international set-up come the 2014 World Cup finals.As predicted, Alberto Gilardino deserves his return after a confidence-boosting performance and a goal for Fiorentina in the Champions League while Vincenzo Iaquinta scored for Juve in the same competition so heÃ¢ÂÂll do.All and all, as said it should be an enjoyable time in the south of France but unlikely to tell us much about LippiÃ¢ÂÂs Italy Mark II.