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Thread: Where are all the Legendary defenders?

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    Where are all the Legendary defenders?

    This topic arose recently when I was having a conversation with my friend who loves Serie A we discussed a player like Maldini who was 17 when he started playing at our rivals team.

    I began to wonder what happened to all the legendary defender? and why are we not seeing players like this come through the academies now in days?

    I can not think of one youngster in any Serie A team who has a defender between the ages of 17-19 ready to start.

    If I am not mistaken the most talented youngster people are talking about is Daniele Rugiani who plays at Empoli is 20 years old and is owned by Juventus. (Im sure browha can help me here)

    The legendary names of the past such as: (and this is no particular order some of which I have taken from bleacher report)

    Giuseppe Favalli*
    Christian Panucci
    Mauro Tassotti
    Alessandro Costacurta
    Fulvio Collovati*
    Aristide Guarnieri*
    Tarcisio Burgnich*
    Giuseppe Bergomi*
    Giacinto Facchetti*
    Fabio Cannavaro*
    Alessandro Nesta
    Franco Baresi
    Gaetano Scirea

    the players with * played at Inter at some point in their careers.

    Inters history is so rich with defenders I didnt even mention Matrix one of my own favorites! It makes me sad to know how the art of defending and the legendary Italian defenders of the past no longer exist in Serie A today

    What do you guys think about this subject?

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    At some point of time.. rano, bonucci and ogbonna looked positive.. but never reached that stage.. don't think will
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    Romas Alessio Romagnoli could be great in the future.

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    When the flood gates opened up for foreigners, then so did the production line of the Italian defenders end.
    Last edited by I4E; 24 Dec 14 at 14:54.
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    I think a lot of this has to do with the general state of Italian football and the fact that the majority of teams don't perform at a world class level. Perhaps Ogbonna, Ranocchia, Santacrocce could have been viewed as world class 10-15 years ago when Serie A teams were better, and thus went deeper in European competition etc. Back then Serie A teams had better structure/stability, which allowed them to integrate and improve players. Oh yeah, and they had money, great strikers and midfielders take pressure off the defenders. That's why people considered Pique world class until his midfield support diminished and he was exposed, that's why people view Jerome Boateng as world class now.

    A lot of this stuff is just perception, if Serie A teams were better all around you would see more talk about the world class defenders.

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    Its relative, i think. In twenty years when i see a striker score a goal, ill be saying "man, no way he scores that goal if the legend ranocchia was marking him".

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    Lol, good joke.
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    Serie A players as a whole aren't as good as they used to be. The entire Italian national team, it's youth teams, and the system are lacking talent.

    I've been saying for a while in the Italian NT thread that the future looks bleak; this is the worst generation of young Italian players since I've been born (mind you that isn't too long). It's not just defense. Who are the next great Italian midfielders aside from Verratti? Where are the fantastic Italian strikers on the horizon?

    The entire system is broken.
    Quote Originally Posted by Arlen View Post
    The problem with this kind of site in english is the international brand of supporters from non-footballers or non-top-footballer countries..
    You see people from Colombia, Oceania, Ireland(i think) pretending that at least ONCE in their life they saw a young wc talent arriving and becoming a world star.

    Just a idea: if you want a serious debate about football, you should block everybody from countries that NEVER will win nothing and NEVER will have a balon d'or, for example.
    Whats the point about those guys opinions??? Can i go to some New Zealand chat and start to teach them how to recognize the better wc prospects among young Rugby players?
    Again, if you NEVER saw a young wc prospect struggling in his first years, like Kaka or Ronaldinho who were booed by they local supporters here, how could you judge????

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    immobile, zaza, berrardi, sharawwy, insinge, cerci, candreva. wow. world class italian players lawl.
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    what worries me is the failure of our exports
    look at immobile, look at cerci, balotelli, etc. all these guys we sold for big money (we as a league) in the summer have utterly failed abroad too

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    I just wonder if that has something to do with them being coddled in Italy? Specifically Balotelli. I don't know, I have also thought about that recently though. I think Cerci is a good player but probably not the best fit for Atletico. Immobile can still be a success long term IMO. However, Balotelli is probably a lost case.

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    The lack of good defenders is not really a problem specific to Italy alone. Those Maldini types of players just don't exist any more anywhere.

    Quote Originally Posted by I4E View Post
    When the flood gates opened up for foreigners, then so did the production line of the Italian defenders end.
    Most coaches like Sacchi, Capello, etc... have said the problem is beating tactics to death at youth levels, rather than focusing on individual ability. This filters out all players who don't fit those tactics.

    You can ban all the foreigners, and give guys like Poli all the play time that they want, but they will never turn into Pirlo. The youth players just aren't good enough.
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    there are 4 main components to the answer to your question. the first is nostalgia, the second is perception, the third is tactics, and the fourth is the general decline of italian football.

    firstly, we look back at older players with nostalgia. someone like zambrotta, for example, is regarded as a legend in milanista circles especially when they fall witness to bonera, abate, and armero fucking up on a weekly basis. another example is the "football is shit nowadays" argument; although it has some merits, it's hardly true. so players like favalli, tassotti, panucci, costacurta are wrongfully classed in the same league as facchetti, maldini, baresi, gentile, bergomi who are truly one of a kind. we naturally inflate players/teams from the past (eg. Recoba, Adriano, even the "Maicon would have been as good as he is now had he stayed" argument)

    secondly, perception is the point thatdude touched on. the quality of the team can affect the perceived quality of the defender. put a mediocre defender next to thiago silva covered by arturo vidal, and he won't necessarily look mediocre. why pique looked world class in 2011 and boateng looks world class now. a more relate able example could be leonardo bonucci of juventus, who makes mistakes on a regular basis but is almost always covered by pogba, marchisio, chiellini, and ogbonna.

    so jankulovski and oddo look top class alongside nesta and maldini, covered by ambrosini, gattuso, and seedorf. or tudor, tacchinardi look world class next to ferrara thuram and montero behind conte, zambrotta, camoranesi, davids. or costacurta looks to be on the level of maldini, nesta, bergomi, facchetti etc next to baresi,maldini.

    thirdly, tactics. this is arguably the most overlooked point. fap already noted those maldini-types dont exist anymore, not only in italy. why? well what changes has defending undergone over the last 10-20 years? the emergence of zonal marking over man marking with sacchi's revolutionary ac milan side...

    I think players like rano but especially juan jesus would have been world class 20 years ago. why? man marking isn't about positional awareness, but being able to tackle your man whenever they have the ball. one on one, juan is a pretty strong defender. rano's tackling technique isn't bad either. rano's problem lies in his lapses in concentration (forgetting to mark certain players in certain zones), while juan's positioning is hilariously poor. both of those issues, however, would be rendered meaningless if they stayed with their man and didn't think about where and who to mark.

    being an effective defender in a zonal marking scheme is less about physicality and more about intelligence and the ability to read the play - which is the unifying trait of every current world class defender. players like burgnich, bergomi, gentile may not have been as successful if they had to zonally mark instead.. conversely, players like lahm or toulalan may not have been as effective if they had to man mark instead.

    the last and final point deals with the decline of italian football. a combination of poor youth academies (little coherence/structure in youth training, outdated tactics), more foreign imports/reluctance to play young players (risk current results for the future in a time when serie a was the most competitive league in the world), pressure (from fans, italian media), bad style of play for youth development (defensive), lack of investment in youth academies etc...


    also, regarding poor exports: even when serie a was at its peak, what italian player did well out of serie a? barely any - with zola and ravanelli the only two that come to mind. i think it's because of the fairly large cultural difference between italy and the rest of europe. you could compare english players not playing in italy and a number of them doing poorly. italian players don't like leaving italy and its culture, hence why not many have done it in the past.

    for example, some italian friends of mine say a lot of italian players are pussies because they hog around their mothers with them everywhere (buffon, nesta), and they're coddled with that family support they wouldn't be able to get if they played in, say, Dortmund or London.
    Last edited by bandiera; 27 Dec 14 at 08:57.


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    Great post bandiera!

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    Regarding exports, though

    look at someone like Cannavaro, or Toni, there are at least a few italian players in recent history who have been big price leavers who have done well abroad. It's not like Cerci and Immobile are doing badly. They're not even playing much. There's a big difference, tbh. And its a bit worrisome that some of the best younger talents we can produce can barely even get a game, let alone play well.

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    great post bandeira. Spot on.
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    I think one thing that hasn't been touched on yet is also change in our society. With social media and traditional media presence at an all time high, people scrutinize every aspect of a players performance and personality regularly. Fans and people who aren't fans especially now also have a platform that was not available to earlier generations. Thus public opinion is now shaped differently than it was 20 years ago.

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    Quote Originally Posted by I4E View Post
    When the flood gates opened up for foreigners, then so did the production line of the Italian defenders end.
    I think that's misleading. It's not like the foreigners who are coming in are world class either.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wings View Post
    I think that's misleading. It's not like the foreigners who are coming in are world class either.
    It's not misleading at all. There is a lot of rubbish-to-average defenders in Serie A that are foreigners. These players are taking up spots in place of the Italians and pushing them into lower clubs or Serie B. It is ridiculous to think that Italy doesn't have players (youth) that could be groomed & developed into very good defenders.

    I'm not suggesting that the problem is just with defenders either, Italy has issues across the whole field. The infatuation with foreigners is killing Italy and Italian players. The alarming problem is the poor quality of foreigners.
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    Quote Originally Posted by I4E View Post
    It is ridiculous to think that Italy doesn't have players (youth) that could be groomed & developed into very good defenders.
    You're crazy if you think guys like Destro or whatever can turn into Tottis. The youth players simply aren't talented enough. Even with defenders, Maldini was 21 when Milan beat Madrid 5-0 in European Cup. There are 0 defenders with anywhere his potential today.

    Germany and Belgium revamped their entire youth system, invested upwards of 700 million euros into grassroots and youth since 2001. Complete infrastructure change top to bottom for youth teams. Started teaching basic skills to kids and drilling it into them. What has Italy done? Jacked off. That's why those talents are non-existent. Read Rapha Honistein's article on German youth transformation, and see why Italy has no great talents.
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