Italian national team coach Antonio Conte has earned the right to have an opinion, even if it’s a shitty one.
As a player, he won five Serie A titles and the Champions League with Juventus and finished as a runner-up in the World Cup and the Euros as a member of the Italian national team.
After becoming a coach, he won three consecutive Serie A titles with Juventus before taking over managerial duties for the Italian national team in 2014. Once Euro 2016 concludes, he’ll begin a three year stint with Chelsea.
His pedigree makes his disparaging comments about the MLS that much more troublesome.
Conte opted not to pick up either Andrea Pirlo or Sebastian Giovinco, the two most prolific Italians playing in MLS, for the Euro tournament. He explained his rationale in a press conference.
“I SPOKE TO ANDREA, I NEEDED TO HEAR FROM HIM AND WE SENT PEOPLE TO THE U.S.”
“HOWEVER, WE’VE MADE OTHER CHOICES AND YOU HAVE TO ACCEPT THEM AND DEAL WITH THE CONSEQUENCES. NOTHING WAS LEFT TO CHANCE.”
“WE’VE EVALUATED HIM AND GIOVINCO, IT’S NORMAL THAT IF YOU CHOOSE TO GO AND PLAY THERE YOU CAN PAY THE CONSEQUENCES IN FOOTBALLING TERMS.”
“WE EVALUATED THEM TECHNICALLY, WE DIDN’T LEAVE ANYTHING TO CHANCE.”
The omission of Andrea Pirlo is understandable. He’s pushing 37 and those old bones don’t move like they once did. But Sebastian Giovinco is another story.
He was last year’s MLS MVP with 22 goals and 16 assists. Kid can play. Granted, MLS isn’t on par with Serie A. No one’s debating that. But to assert that Giovinco is technically deficient simply because he plays in America is ludicrous.
Giovinco may not be playing against the level of competition that Conte would prefer – the worst player on an MLS starting 11 is far worse than the worst player on a Serie A starting 11 – but that has very little to do with technical ability.
In 2014, Italy took zero players from MLS. They didn’t make it out of their group. The U.S. took 13 players from MLS and made it out of a group that included Germany, Portugal, and Ghana.
Look at Giovinco’s play last year and tell me if he looks technically unsound:
What about here?
I know it’s tough to lose if you never get scored on, but it’s also tough to win if you never score. Italy’s front line is looking meeker than it ever has and a dynamo like Sebastian Giovinco definitely brings something to the table.
I don’t think I’m alone when I say I’ve never liked the way the Azzurri play; ugly, defensive, attrition ball.
I haven’t forgotten how De Rossi did McBride dirty at the World Cup.
Conte’s anti-MLS stance just gives me one more reason to root against the Italians.
Should Giovinco have made Italy’s Euro squad?