Four goals in twenty internationals isn’t a statistic that would strike fear into many defences this summer. However, having shown what he is capable of against Switzerland in the final pre-World Cup friendly for the Azzurri, Fabio Quagliarella is a man with something to prove, and the stage is set for him to leave his mark.
Having made successive Nazionale squads for both Euro 2008 and this year’s World Cup, the Neapolitan striker has staked his claim for a starting appearance against Paraguay on June 14. Operating best on the left-wing however, he will come up against former Udinese team-mate, and current Capocannoniere Antonio Di Natale for a starting berth. But with Toto failing to impress in his run-outs, is he really the right man to accompany Alberto Gilardino and Vincenzo Iaquinta in our trident attack?
Much can be said about Di Natale’s 29 goals this season, but the fact remains that the little magician has failed to recreate that form for la Nazionale. Quagliarella offers a different dimension. Other than being a workhorse, he has the skill, panache and ability to make something out of nothing to cause a stir this month...and hopefully right the way through to July 11.
Nevertheless, Quag will in all probability be deployed as an impact substitute, coming off the bench to make the difference...a sort of Giuseppe Rossi-esque role. Having scored 11 goals for Napoli last season, the former Sampdoria man knows how to find the net, the question is whether he will be given the chance.
Critics will continue to write off this Italian side, and it would appear things are heavily stacked against them. Even most of us are now clutching at straws and any sign of superstitious good fortune is welcome. The Azzurri have now drawn with the Swiss 1-1 in a pre-World Cup friendly on three occasions, the first of which came in 1982 and the second in 2006. No Italian needs reminding that these were both World Cup winning years, so...who’s ready for a fifth star come July 11?