Prandelli breaks the mould by naming his teams a day early

October 12, 2010

SOCCER-EURO/In rugby, teams are often named several days before matches — a habit I’ve never really understood.

If there is any doubt about what lineup you will field, surely it makes sense to keep the opposition coach guessing until the final moment? The advantage may be slight, but it’s there and it might make the other coach mess up his preparations if he guesses wrongly.

In soccer, teams are thus traditionally announced just one hour before kick off. It adds to the drama of matchday for those watching.

However, new Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has broken the mould and has been naming his teams a day before matches. He reads out the lineup and given he is such an honest guy, no one even thinks he is pulling a fast one. Indeed, the Italy teams he has named so far have always lined up the day after.

His opponent for Tuesday’s Euro 2012 qualifier here in Genoa, the Serbia coach Vladimir Petrovic, was bemused by Prandelli’s tactic.

“I can’t tell you much about the formation, it’s a fundamental game,” he said.

Prandelli’s reasons for such openness are his wish to bond with the press and the belief that if players know a day before that they are playing, they can prepare better mentally. There’s no point just telling the players and no one else, the news will leak out. He also named three Sampdoria players and one Genoa defender, hoping to excite the Genoa crowd.

It’s true that England coach Fabio Capello announced on Monday that Wayne Rooney and Peter Crouch would start against Montenegro, but that was mainly because the pairing was obvious given the side’s injury problems.

You could argue that being secretive about a lineup is pointless as most of us can guess the vast majority of players who will start for a major international team, while in the case of Spain for example, whatever XI they field is going to be formidable.

But in Italy’s case following their woeful World Cup, over half the team is in doubt each match and Prandelli has gifted Serbia a day’s prior knowledge. Even if he didn’t reveal his exact formation.

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