Euro 2012: Can Thiago Motta Be The Azzurri’s Catalyst?

GUEST POST BY ALEX MOTT

1970 PSG takes a look at the club’s Euro 2012 contingent ahead of next week’s kick-off in Poland/Ukraine with Italy’s Thiago Motta taking centre stage this time around.

Alex Mott, an up and coming football writer, looks how Thiago Motta can have a positive influence on the Azzurri with his expertise. Alex is a European football writer for Goal.com, and their Deputy Italian Expert for Euro 2012.

With Brazilian flair and Italian steel, Thiago Motta looks like the ultimate midfielder; a player Azzurri coach Cesare Prandelli would be mad to leave out of his starting-XI. Unfortunately for the 29-year-old though, a host of talented team-mates, and some tactical uncertainty from the manager, has left Motta in a quandary as to whether he will start on June 10 against Spain.

Having moved to Paris Saint-Germain in January from Inter, the Sao Paulo-born maestro has been left somewhat in the cold by Prandelli; being one of only three players in the squad playing outside of Serie A, the interest in Motta’s performances from the peninsula have been minimal to say the least.

Although Motta has played fairly well for Les Parisiens since his winter move, the Italian midfield is packed with talent for Poland and Ukraine. Prandelli has been coy on what formation he will play come that game in Gdansk on June 10, but if qualifying is anything to go by, 4-3-1-2 is the template from which they will work. The ‘regista’ as he is called in Italy, will be Andrea Pirlo. The 32-year-old has had the season of his life, becoming the catalyst for Juventus’ scudetto-winning campaign. Alongside him will almost certainly be Claudio Marchisio – another bright spark in the Bianconeri’s first title since Calciopoli. They will both be joined by Roma captain Daniele De Rossi.

It’s the ‘trequarista’ role that Motta will hope to make his own though but again, he comes up against stiff and in-form competition. Riccardo Montolivio has had a difficult season with a struggling Fiorentina side, but has since made his much-vaunted move to AC Milan, and he will certainly look to prove he can cope on the biggest stage. Montolivio’s new club mate Antonio Nocerino will also be hoping for a starting berth against the current European and world champions. The 27-year-old has had his best ever season, scoring 10 goals for the Rossoneri, including one against Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-final.

The industry and extra defensive strengths Motta has in his armoury may prove to be his saving grace when it comes to starting that opening game though. Only a fool would set up against the Spanish in an open, possession-based system, so Motta looks like the perfect compromise when it comes to the first group match. His vision, purpose going forward, but most importantly, defensive mentality, could see Motta become, against all odds, the Azzurri’s most important player at Euro 2012.

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