Capello slates Spalletti for Milan-focused national team problem: “Alarm bell ringing”

By Ben Dixon -

It has been well reported that there are no representatives from AC Milan in the Italian National Team, and this morning, Fabio Capello has slated Luciano Spalletti for the decision.

Ahead of the tournament, the questions surrounding Italy were not, “Will they retain?”, but rather, “Will they even progress into the deep stages?”

Those questions were answered on Saturday. No, they won’t, and no, they won’t, as they fell to a 2-0 loss to the Swiss National Team, and their tournament came to a crashing end. For some, though, this was expected, with the Azzurri struggling a lot in recent years – barring the previous European success.

Recently, it has been questioned within the Milan fanbase why the Rossoneri had no representatives at the European Championship for the Azzurri, and this point has been furthered after the elimination.

Of course, there are not heaps of Italian talent in the Diavolo’s squad, but surely it cannot be any worse than some of the players that travelled to Germany. With this in mind, Capello took a chance to slate Spalletti for his selections, and even the selection to pick him, in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport (via Football Italia).

“From what I saw, I think it [system changes] caused confusion, especially among the players. Jorginho and Fagioli were the playmakers, but none of them were Lobotka. They have different skill sets. Xhaka did what he wanted. But I’d use another word for Spalletti – arrogance.

“Against Spain, I thought Spalletti acted as a club coach. He sent the team to the pitch, saying, ‘This is us. Let’s see if we are better than them.’ He chose a four-man defence against the best wingers in the Euros, and we saw who was better.”

Who has more responsibility? Spalletti or the players?

“It’s a good question. Of course, Spalletti has great responsibility, but the footballers must feel the weight of the shirt. I had never seen Italy play like this. And let me add something I didn’t like. Everything was too sensationalised: words, training sessions, events… We’ve seen a little bit of everything. I prefer the culture of low profile and hard work.”

Capello feels there is another problem with the national team…

“When there isn’t a Milan player in the team and not even a Juve player in the starting XI, then an alarm bell must ring. If these clubs don’t have valuable players for the national team, we have a problem.”

Tags AC Milan Italian National Team


  1. The fact that Di Lorenzo went over Calabria shows what Spalletti actually knows, he’s another Pioli who has been flopping for years.

    1. Sorry but I’d choose Di Lorenzo over Calabria any day. Sure Di Lorenzo had an awful tournament, but I doubt Calabria would be any better.

      1. For me Italy lack that attacking superstar…the Baggio, Del Piero, Totti who can get a handful of goals in a tournament and create changes for a no9

        1. Exactly- those days are long gone tho… The classic 10s like Hagi, Valderrama, Matthaus those were the days…

          1. Modern formations also, I’m sure with Baggio or Totti playing off him Scamacca would score more. The isolated striker with two wide attackers (won’t call them wingers) doesn’t benefit all strikers

        1. Let’s face it – Italy doesn’t have a RB. It was a case of do you want to see Di Lorenzo flop show or Calabria car crash?

      2. Di Lorenzo is garbage, a frightened little mouse. Calabria is inconsistent, but does well against great players.

        1. The myth of Calabria doing well against great players continues. That’s because any time he faces a good player Milan have to designate at least one other player to help him out the entire match. So it appears that he is doing well when actually he’s getting a ton of help.

      3. Calabria, my friend, may not be as good as Di Lorenzo of a couple years ago, but you can be assured that Calabria would leave it all in the field, 100% and nothing less.

  2. Capello makes an excellent point. There is a lot of talent in the Italian team, but a lot of it is at clubs not playing In the CL. If the likes of Buongiorno, Scamacca, Calafiori played weekly in the CL it may be a different story

      1. Possibly….Scalvini has looked impressive in Europe though. However watching Serie A I think those aforementioned are ready for the next level .it seems a lot of top 6 prem teams are interested.

    1. It would be interesting to have a study about the impact of the growth decree. Football clubs acting more like corporations than in the national interest, they were of course more interested in avoiding taxes than developing or recruiting Italian players. Though England or France have a big pipeline of talent despite their domestic teams not relying on domestic players.

      Still Spalletti has some responsibility as he made dubious choices in the players called and changing systems almost every game.

      1. Absolutely. There is plenty of talent within Serie A it just isn’t at its optimum. Italy remind me of England, it’s just sluggish non inventive tactics…I mean Jorginho and Barella have a better than good partnership, as is Bastoni and Calafiori, Di Marco is a very good player, Chiesa looked good….they lack that glory player and a no9 who can get goals..which may be back to the tactics and formation.

        I’ve said it repeatedly, due to economics we can’t compete for the best players in the world, but what we should strive for is to sign the best young Italian talent. That way it can only benefit the national team

      2. I think England and France are different routes to the same end. France has great academies because the objective is largely to feed bigger leagues with youth, simply to survive.

        Being ‘genuinely’ competitive at international level is a new phenomenon in England and is a result of clubs finally professionalising 10-15 years ago, mostly because they had so much money they might as well spend it on something. The academies are so good now that after years of teams largely fielding 11 foreigners, the English kids are starting to command starting spots. England has become Spain but with money, and that’s frightening.

        Italian teams (particularly tops ones) need to find a balance between having stars in their prime that will see us in the later stages of the UCL regularly, and trusting well nurtured kids whilst leaving enough in the budget to pay them well when the English inevitably come after them.

      3. I don’t think there is a need for a study as the results so bloody obvious. Italy has missed two World Cups in a row. Did that happen EVER before the Growth Decree?

        This is what you get for playing cheap.

  3. He wasn’t criticising Spalletti for not taking Milan or (at least not many) Juve players, he was stating that those two clubs have formed the backbone of Italy’s greatest sides and it’s a problem that they now don’t.

    For far too long , the big three have invested too much in (often overpaid, overrated or over the hill) household names, in a futile attempt to keep up with the English circus, and this is the result of that.

    We have to do what Germany did; there has to be a concerted mission to rejuvenate Italian football and either incentivise or even force playing time for homegrown talent.

    But it has to come from the very top, so it won’t happen. Much like after the 2 World Cup disasters, those at the very top are already blaming everything but Italian football.

  4. It comes down to talent or the lack thereof.
    As we all know, Italy hasn’t qualified for the WC since 2014, and in the last 2 tournaments where they did qualify, euro 2020 and 2024, their best player was their Goalkeeper, Gigio Donnarumma.

  5. Whilst Capello started raising a legitimate question he should have gone one step further a name the source of Italy’s problem. The problem lies at the heart of untested, inflatedly priced players on the one hand and greedy owners and agents on the other. Careers are a thing of the past with players being pimped to the highest payers without regard for their readiness. And I’ll give you a couple of examples…Scamacca, Bourgiorno, Frattessi, etc. And now we can ask why Milan does not have a single player in the NT. If your 2nd and 3rd place teams do not have a single player that makes the 1st team, then where will you stack at a national level…and this speaks to a deeper problem with Italian soccer. Let us stop promoting and selling off these one season players as excellent and let them prove themselves 1st before demanding exorbitant amounts for one season of work.

    1. Well said, Buongiorno is realistically a 25m player. There’s a lot of talent but no proof of it beyond good performances for Torino. The issue is As you say true owners who want to sell to the prem for big money. The problem is the market talks and dominates….owners nor agents have players interests at heart

  6. I think it is now plain to see for everyone that not having Italian players is not a problem for Milan. It is a problem for Italy that there are too few Italian players that MIlan could be interested in.

  7. The problem is Italian players are often priced at a point that doesn’t make sense. Buongiorno is not a 40-50 million Euro players, but perhaps he should have played against Switzerland. And then there is El Sharaawy that still plays… he hasn’t been good in 10+ years.

  8. Let’s face it. Italy isn’t a top team in football anymore. They don’t even belong to the TOP20 in Europe. Did anyone enjoy any of their games? I didn’t.

    1. The one against Albania was merely okay. And I enjoyed watching Spain running circles around them. Donnarumma saved Italy from a much more severe loss. Lol

      1. I f*n hate Spain! They have beaten Italy too many times so I’ve grown to hate them from the bottom of my heart. So… I did NOT enjoy watching Spain running circles around them. 😛

        But yeah, without Gigio Italy wouldn’t have made to the 2nd round and would have probably lost to Spain 0-4.

  9. Italy just doesn’t produce great talent anymore. The expectations don’t match the talent level. People are stuck in the past. Scamacca as your starting striker? Elsharawy? Where do you expect the goals to come from? Fagiola, Fratessi? Di lorenzo? These are not top players. There is 1 world class player on the entire team and that is the goalie.

    1. I’d start Bonaventura over El Sharaawy and that says it all. I kinda feel like Bonaventura was one of the last somewhat top level attacking players Italy has had.

      Heck I would have just grabbed more from the U21 team. Surely they aren’t as bad as these starters.

  10. Yeah remember according to the readers here Milan needed to spend 40m on Fratessi over getting Rejinders because muh Italian players

  11. Since 2006 Italy hasn’t done anything to develop the next generation of stars. There is a giant void.

    Everyone talks about Growth Decree. It was instituted to attract foreign talent to bring into Italy to make it more appealing. To make it more attractive outside of Italy. To promote airing rights and get more money in. Because since the 90’s jack sh|t had been done to market it, improve it and make it be what EPL is today…

    Abolishment of Growth decree was NEVER about youth development. That was just the “bow” they put on a sh|t box to sell is as a gift to Italy. Abolishment of growth decree was to put more tax revenue into the pockets of the same decrepit dinosaurs that ran the league in the 90’s and still do today.

    Italy as a whole is never proactive. It is always reactive – villager mentality. Ultimately its what holds it back on many fronts. Serie A and it’s marketing rights is just proof of that.

    Germany won the 1990 WC and failed to change and did what Italy is doing now – they slept. So the next two WC’s (the ones they actually qualified for) they crashed out to Bulgaria in ’94 and Croatia in ’98. So what did they do? They went back and started developing the sh|t out of everything and everywhere, building soccer fields in rural areas, low-income areas etc, and making it more affordable for youth to train, develop and progress.
    Fast forward to 2014 they win another WC.

    This sh|t takes time when you are proactive. And Italy has been anything but having missed 2 WC’s already. There have been no active steps to improve anything. Just slap a new coach on an old problem, rinse and repeat and let’s hope for a miracle.

    You say it starts at a club level? Fine, make it appealing for clubs to sign Italians more. But currently there is little quality and its overpriced. Even the little clubs are having to pick through what little the country produces to then slap a stupid price tag on and push it on.

    Aside from Donnarumma and Calafiori there is not one player that jumped off the page for clubs to jump on and want to sign…. Where is the next crop of RB’s? How much longer to we have to see DiLorenzo flops against Spain’s youth and speed? How many more players do we have to witness not being able to take their players on? Chiesa was the ONLY player doing that. Everyone else was passing back…

    Zacagni, Ses, Darmian, Jorginho, DiLorenzo, Raspadori, Retegui, Christante…. utter garbage. Spalletti was somehow trying to turn that sh|t into nutella??? He was the biggest joke there…

    (sorry for the rant)

  12. You nailed it. I’ve been saying it for a while but everyone complaining AC Milan not buying Italian when they are mediocre. The fact that there almost zero Italian playing in the top club outside of Italy (except PSG ) says a lot. PSG is a mediocre club itself.
    Italian are so stubborn they can’t agree to build stadium which is a step forward

  13. Italy need to do a Germany on its football system. But don’t feel so bad, another famous footballing country has lost its way: Brazil. 5 time WC champs and they also seem to be lost. So the issue may not be a simple as “there are no Italians playing for top teams”. It’s more of a systemic thing.

  14. When Milan and Juventus start having good Italian players in the National team,know that Italy redemption is near.
    In short, Italy will never win any senior competition without a Milan player.

  15. Italy no good so yeah USA also no good got eliminated at the copa america cant even beat Panama, so please dont get any players from the US and should also sell Pulisic and Musah like how we shouldnt get any Italian also.

  16. It’s a system issue. Growth decree was awful, but also the big teams need to buy the young italians so they can grow in a top environment and progress. Lastly, italy needs their own stadiums so the teams can make the profits and re-invest into players. Problem also lies with the small teams holding their good italian players hostage by grossly overpricing them. that said, england does it too but they actually pay for their english talent even if they’re overpriced because they have more pride in their own these days which is something the big teams in italy need to get back. only team doing it now is surprisingly inter.

  17. Italy should return to the 60s era when only three foreign players per club could be playing at anyone time in a game. Italy had many great italian players then and the clubs finances weren’t a problem. Money is ruining football and national teams worldwide.

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