World Cup Football: Darmian Provides Italy Hope


Football Italia
June 17 2014

Can Matteo Darmian be a regular starter for Italy? Sam Lewis examines
why the Torino man has hope for the future.

As Matteo Darmian spoke to the Press following his World Cup finals
debut, he was as surprised as many at his inclusion in Cesare
Prandelli’s Italy squad.

“If someone had told me a few months ago that I would be here,
honestly I would have laughed,” the 24-year-old confessed.

What the Torino man refers to is a three month period that would be
represented on a graph as a consistently ascending line. Darmian’s
World Cup selection followed an excellent season for Giampiero
Ventura’s Granata that for the most part flew under the radar – he
played 37 games in a variety of positions including either sides of
midfield, centre-back and as either full-back.

Darmian has now turned into a crucial component of a club side that
finished seventh in Serie A last season and is now, most recently,
a starter for Italy – playing every minute of the Azzurri’s 2-1 win
over England on Saturday night.

However, despite giving the impression he has simply popped out of
the ground, Matteo Darmian will enter his third season as a Serie
A regular after the World Cup. Appearing first as a 16-year-old
substitute for Milan in 2006 before a collection of loan moves –
first to Palermo and later to Torino in 2011 – cemented his status
and first attracted the attentions of the Italy Coach.

Born in the Northern Italian town of Legnano to parents of Armenian
descent, Darmian excelled at youth level for Milan, captaining the
Diavolo’s primavera side at 17.

However, in June 2012 the Rossoneri sold their stake in Darmian’s
contract to Palermo, ending an 11-year relationship with the player.

The decision has proven to be an oversight – Darmian evolving into
a consistent figure in Turin while Milan have struggled for quality
at either full-back position in recent years.

Quick and industrious, Darmian was a constant threat on the right
flank against England with overlapping runs and measured, intelligent
movements. Displaying accurate crossing and incisive, calm passing,
the former Palermo man combined well with Antonio Candreva, including
one occasion that led to the Azzurri’s winning goal in Manaus.

Darmian’s effectiveness led to many lauding the performance, including
Inter and Azzurro icon Sandro Mazzola.

“I didn’t expect Matteo Darmian to be so decisive at these levels
but he really impressed me,” the former midfielder remarked. “England
didn’t realise he was there and it allowed us to punish them.”

Darmian’s Italy involvement is a credit to Cesare Prandelli, who has
once again trusted his instinct to value talent over experience. The
choice of the Torino prospect instead of the more tournament tested
Ignazio Abate and Christian Maggio has proven to be a worthwhile risk
so far, Darmian representing another weapon that provides much-valued
tactical flexibility.

It is only one game for the Torino talent who is very much at the early
stages of a prospective Azzurro career, but the first indications are
promising. With little expectation attached to the chances of finding
a long-term solution at right-back out of either Abate or Maggio,
Darmian has a real opportunity to make the position his own. Although
if he did, it probably wouldn’t much of a surprise anymore.