There was a mixed reaction from the Italian press to the new-look Italy of Cesare Prandelli after the 2006 world champions were beaten 1-0 by Côte d'Ivoire yesterday. Some newspapers were harsh but in general there was an element of perspective towards the team Prandelli sent out, a side that included five debutants.
"Little Italy," said La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Prandelli beaten on his debut but there was a new spirit. Italy needs to grow, from (Marcello) Lippi to Prandelli we've been beaten again. Still no wins in 2010 but the coach asked for order and spirit from the team and he got it."
Gazzetta was also kind to the two men most in the spotlight, Inter Milan's Mario Balotelli, whom they described as Italy's best player, and Antonio Cassano of Sampdoria. It praised both for their efforts to create and score and claimed the rest of the team was behind the two players considered their country's best talents, neither of which made Lippi's squad to the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ in South Africa.
Corriere dello Sport was also sympathetic to the national team saying: "Courage, Italy. Prandelli lost on his debut, Cassano tried some things and Balotelli fought, but that wasn't enough for the Azzurri." And there was a sobering thought, echoed also by La Reppublica: "The road is long," although the left-wing paper did describe Italy as fragile.
However, Il Giornale, La Stampa and Corriere della Sera were not so gentle in their assessment, each proclaiming a theme along the lines of, nothing has changed. "Italy, everything is as it was before," said Corriere della Sera. "Prandelli starts badly, Ivory Coast won in London. Good intentions don't make miracles."
Il Giornale added: "Everything about the Italy team has changed, but the results haven't. Prandelli's debut didn't transform the national team, a seventh match in a row without a win and three defeats in 2010. Cassano and Balotelli, the two major World Cup omissions, did well but the team still needs to be invented. The defence failed as a block."
La Stampa proclaimed: "Prandelli hit the wrong note on his debut despite the revolution in attack. The new Italy lost like the old one."