Thursday Kickoff: Prandelli could remain Italy manager; Özil back in Arsenal squad; and more

CesarePrandelliItaly1-SpainConfederationsCup2013 (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

Cesare Prandelli is expected to discuss his future with the Italian National Team next month, but he may have already made up his mind.

According to Italian newspaper Gazzetta Dello Sport, Prandelli has decided to accept a four-year contract extension from the Italian Football Federation (FIGC). The news is a surprise since he’s publicly stated his desire since Euro 2012 that he’d like to return to being a club coach.

One of Prandelli’s demands in a new Italy deal would be a promotion to technical director of all Italian National Teams, similar to Jurgen Klinsmann’s new title with U.S. Soccer. The report states that there’s still a chance that Prandelli could decide against signing a new deal if an offer from abroad (Tottenham) comes, or even one from within Italy (Inter Milan.

Under Prandelli, Italy made the Euro 2012 final, the Confederations Cup semifinals, and the team went undefeated in qualification for the 2014 World Cup. They’ve been placed in Group D with England, Uruguay, and Costa Rica.

Here are some more stories to get your Thursday started:

ÖZIL RETURNS FOR ARSENAL

Following his absence against Sunderland last Saturday, Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil is set for a return to the starting lineup.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger confirmed to reporters on Thursday at a press conference that the German international will be in the squad set to face Stoke City on Saturday. Özil was left out of the Arsenal side against Sunderland following a disappointing performance mid-week against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League.

Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen is also available for selection this weekend, and could potentially play left back in place of the injured Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal.

Wenger also defended his decision to give his players a two-day break, citing that his team has been playing nearly non-stop without a break since early December.

GRIEZMANN CALLED INTO FRANCE SQUAD

A potential star of the French National Team has made a late bid to make the World Cup squad.

France National Team head coach included uncapped Real Sociedad attacking midfielder Antoine Griezmann in his squad for next Wednesday’s friendly match against the Netherlands in Paris. Griezmann, who has scored 15 goals in 23 La Liga matches this season, was suspended until December 31, 2013 after being caught at a night club while with the France Under-21 squad in November 2012.

Also included in the France squad is Karim Benzema, Olivier Giroud, Franck Ribery, Paul Pogba, and Laurent Koscielny. Some notable names left off the squad include the injured Samir Nasri, Eric Abidal, Alexandre Lacazette, and Florian Thauvin.

Paris Saint-Germain full back Lucas Digne could also win his first cap if he plays against the Netherlands.

QUICK KICKS

Greece National Team head coach Fernando Santos will step down following the 2014 World Cup. (REPORT)

Phil Jagielka has been ruled out of both Everton and England’s next matches with a hamstring injury. (REPORT)

Barcelona head coach Gerardo Martino will serve a one-game ban after being sent off last Saturday in his side’s 3-1 defeat to Real Sociedad. (REPORT)

The Spanish National Team will face Bolivia in a send off friendly match on May 30 in Sevilla. (REPORT)

Fiorentina forward Mario Gomez is set for his first start since mid-September, more than five months removed from a serious knee injury. (REPORT)

Borussia Dortmund are eying FC Torino and former Italian youth international forward Ciro Immobile as a replacement for Robert Lewandowski. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Think that the FIGC should re-sign Prandelli or move in a different direction? Do you see Özil starting vs. Stoke? Do you think Griezmann could make his first France appearance next Wednesday?

Share your thoughts below.

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24 Responses to Thursday Kickoff: Prandelli could remain Italy manager; Özil back in Arsenal squad; and more

  1. patrick says:

    but, doesn’t Italy need to see what Prandelli accomplishes at the world cup before an extension?

    • Increase0 says:

      I get the point your making about Jurgen. Prandelli had a good Euro’s.(Was him right?) I think they are really happy with him.

      On to Jurgen. I think we underrate the Gold Cup too much. Oh its not a Euros but it matters a lot. We want in the Confederations Cup and we should do our best to be there every time.

      • Nate Dollars says:

        this past iteration of the gold cup was the equivalent of a b-team tournament (except panama, maybe?). i know they’re trying to make every one count with the new format, but it didn’t work like that this year.

      • slowleftarm says:

        Last year’s gold cup was a bunch of B teams but the gold cup next year is a legit tournament. Definitely should bring our best team and I’m sure we will, as will everyone else.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        Yes, Gold Cup 2013 qualified us for a playoff for Confed Cup 2017 (!), but big picture it was a B team tournament where Mexico was in an off year and shuffling through about 3 sets of important games. I also think that with our general success rate in Gold Cup it is a poor metric. We usually win or take second so how do you judge coaching impact if we repeat that finish?

        To the extent US Soccer references Gold Cup in the extension, I’d say that’s a tad misguided, but also probably more banally pleasant than saying the coach leveraged the situation by getting his agent on the phone with other teams. “We extended him because it was getting annoying him walking around the office hinting at London weather being nice this time of year. Just to shut him up.”

    • Nate Dollars says:

      i would think so, although the euros is a pretty big deal.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      I had the same thought about our Klinsmann extension.

      But to inject some reality into the discussion, coaching contract terms don’t necessarily play out as on paper, Bradley had a contract extension through Brazil 2014, barely made it a year into the extension.

      • Increase0 says:

        Incidentally, Bob sorta got fired for losing that Gold Cup final. Just sayin.

        • The Imperative Voice says:

          It was a string of losses and ties — interrupted by only the South Afica game — that put him in harm’s way. He then picked an odd selection for Gold Cup, saw Jozy get injured and expose the lack of forward depth in his choices, lost to Panama, and then blew the Mexico lead. Just Mexico, he still has the job. But he just seemed to have lost the plot and Mexico was the punctuation on a series of bad showings. We just didn’t look good for a while.

  2. biff says:

    Listen! Do you hear it? Yep, a big sigh of relief from FC Bayern that their buddy Mesut Ozil is back with the Arsenal squad and they are no doubt hoping Mesut will be starting when Arsenal flies to Munich in two weeks for the decisive second CL game…

    Arsenal’s starting line-up last weekend against Sunderland with Ozil sitting in the stands would have beaten FC Bayern in last week’s CL game. Horrible mistakes made by Wenger in the starting line-up and subsequent substitutions. Will be interesting to see whether Wenger learned from those mistakes or not?

    • Nate Dollars says:

      “Arsenal’s starting line-up last weekend against Sunderland with Ozil sitting in the stands would have beaten FC Bayern in last week’s CL game.”

      yeah, you can tell by how well arsenal played against sunderland–a team that’s pretty comparable to bayern munich.

    • CL says:

      Pfff other than Real Madrid nobody can beat Bayern right now.

    • Scweeb says:

      Are you comparing FC Bayern last years CL Champs and who have already secured the League Title to Sunderland??

    • biff says:

      Yes, Bayern are strong, but beatable, and not only be Real Madrid. Arsenal actually played ‘em strong with only nine men, and with eleven men, the same eleven that started against Jozy, would have beaten Bayern and would have chance of winning in Munich in two weeks.

      Bayern’s big advantage now, especially in the Bundesliga, is that teams give them to much respect and do not pressure enough higher up the pitch. Plus, Neuer with his daring forays well away from the net and even beyond the box is inviting disaster, like when the kid from Arsenal Yaya Sanogo pressured him and got an unjustified yellow on a 50-50 challenge when Neuer dived. But you are not going to beat Bayern with wimpy performances like we saw from Ozil. Everyone is saying how bad Man U was against Olympiakos, and they were. But Olympiakos played a very aggressive and spirted brand of soccer and that is exactly what can beat Bayern.

      And by the way, if it can beat Bayern it also can beat the German national team which I think the USMNT will succeed in doing in June. Honestly, Germany under Jogi Low is not nearly as good as they could be and Portugal will be a tougher opponent for the USMNT.

      • Nate Dollars says:

        somebody needs to tell all those bundesliga teams that they just need to play more “aggressive and spirited”.

  3. William the Terror says:

    Any news on Freddy Adu today? Is he taking a medical in preparation for his next role as a sixth midfield option at Harrisburg?

  4. SilverRey says:

    Immobile isn’t going anywhere!