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Italy have proved all the doubters around the world wrong, producing a terrific Euro 2016 campaign.

Antonio Conte’s men entered the tournament with the so-called “worst squad in the country’s history”.

Italy can look back on Euro 2016 campaign with prideThe Azzuri exited the competition against historic rivals Germany, ending the drought the Germans have had over their Italian counterparts. The Italians were heartbrokenly knocked out on penalties, however, after going down 1-0 their display of passion and team collectiveness to push themselves for victory after the penalty mirrors their attributes all tournament.

I for one thought their lack of creativity in central midfield would limit them, however, being proven wrong never felt so good. Preparing for the World Cup in Russia in two years time, the four-time world champions will have a different coach and squad makeup.

Italian Federation (FIGC) President Carlo Tavecchio announced the appointment of Giampiero Ventura, who will take over from Antonio Conte, before the tournament began. Many believe his tactics mirror Conte’s considering he usually plays with a back three. Fitting, as it was Ventura who introduced a three man defence to the Serie A in 1999.

There are two reasons for Ventura’s appointment as manager, one of them is that the iconic Marcello Lippi is a big fan. Another reason is that the veteran manager is known for bleeding Italian youth into his sides, something the country’s footballing body is desperate to see improve. The ageing squad is a serious issue that requires attention, and despite this terrific tournament the Azzuri still failed to bleed in many young players at all under Conte.

With the International retirement of Andrea Barzagli and the 31-year-old Giorgio Chiellini, regardless of whether Italy regularly play with a back 3 or 4 under Ventura, they need to start working in new younger defenders. These should include Alessio Romagnoli and Daniele Rugani who have proved their worth at Milan and Juventus respectively.

In terms of wing-backs, Italy have a solid situation at the moment with Mattia De Sciglio, Matteo Darmian and sometimes Alessandro Florenzi who are all are currently in their mid 20s. A new young fullback that could feature as a backup is Adam Masina from Bologna.

One guarantee under Ventura is that the midfield will be far more fluid in attack, despite the injuries suffered to Verratti and Marchisio; the likes of Jorginho and Giacomo Bonaventura were still left at home by Conte. Bonaventura and Jorginho as well as the likes of Daniele Baselli and Marco Benassi whom Ventura worked with at Torino will also most likely feature in some capacity for Italy.

Older players such as Riccardo Montolivo and Thiago Motta must be put aside, as their time has passed and they offer very little to the Nazionale. Players such as Marco Parolo and Emanuele Giaccherini have proved their worth this summer in France and do deserve their shot at the team as well.

Then there is the issue of Daniele De Rossi, whom had an excellent tournament and was sorely missed in the penalty shoot out elimination against Germany. France 2016 might have been the Roma vice captain’s last international tournament for his country, however, it would depend on his form in the lead up to 2018.

The forward situation turned out better than expected, with the industrious Eder and Graziano Pelle putting in a few decent shifts, they will both likely continue. Players such as Simone Zaza and Ciro Immobile’s chances would depend on their ongoing form, as they are yet to make a telling contribution to the national team.

Lorenzo Insigne could not find himself in Conte’s line-up due to the formation, however, whenever he came on as a second striker he made a difference, it will be interesting to see how Ventura uses him. Antonio Candreva, Federico Bernardeschi and Stephan El Shaarawy all deserve to continue in the team, especially Candreva who was Conte’s star midfielder throughout the tournament.

Young forwards like Domenico Berardi and Torino hitman Andrea Belotti will find themselves earning a few call ups due to their stellar Serie A form as of late, this could revitalise the Azzuri front line.

Italy face a tough road to Russia 2018 considering they are in the same group as rivals Spain, however, they proved this summer in France that toppling La Roja can be done with the right tactics and manager.

The future is bright for Ventura’s men due to the young talent they have, if they do not bleed through these and other talents there will be wasted potential for the Italian squad that arrives in Russia in two years’ time.

Originally published at outside90.com

Post written by Matt Nicoletti, Twitter: @nicoletti1996
for Outside 90, Blog: outside90.com, Twitter: @Outside90

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