Thursday, February 28, 2008

Antonio Cassano: not washed up yet

For most over-hyped starlets, going from Roma to Real Madrid to Sampdoria might be seen as a bit of a step backwards career wise. But for Antonio Cassano, noted headcase, junk food aficionado, Val Kilmer lookalike, and STD victim, the move to Genoa has thrust him back into the Italian national team picture. Why Cassano should be starting for the Azzurri this summer, after the jump.

Cassano has always been one of those underachieving players, mostly due to the ridiculous 28 million euro transfer fee that Roma paid Bari to get him in 2001, when he was still a teenager. But he did enjoy some good times in Rome before falling out with Fabio Capello and the revolving door of managers that followed (do you realize Roma had four managers during the 04-05 season?).

Real Madrid bought him in January 2006 after he was declared persona non grata in Rome, and some hoped that a reunion with Capello the following year would rejuvenate his career. Instead, he was put on the David Beckham "go fuck off" plan by the now England manager, and was a non-factor in the Merengues' La Liga title last year. Cassano declined to join Sven's revolution at Citeh, and instead moved to Sampdoria on loan at the start of this season.

Cassano was initially terrible, but he has been on fire since the new year. He was the Serie A player of the month in January. Last weekend, he was the best player on the pitch and scored a sweet goal against Inter. Sampdoria now sit just one point out of the final UEFA Cup spot on offer in Italy.

His stellar form has has brought him to the attention of national team manager Roberto Donadoni, who has almost promised him a place in this summer's team for Euro 2008 if he can keep it going. Of course, for Cassano the problem has almost been consistency, but he is probably the third best forward with an Italian passport right now.

You figure Luca Toni is automatic, and then a deeper creative forward a la Francesco Totti or Cassano. Either way, the Azzurri are stacked, and I'm picking them right now as the team to beat this summer in SwitzerAustria '08.

Just ignore the rampant choking going on at Inter in the Champions League. Its not an indictment of Italian football or the Serie A, just proof that Mancini sucks and Jose Mourinho is going to be running the joint come August. Hell, the team has barely any Italian players anyways. Its the Swedes and Argies who are shitting the bed!

Oh and look out LB, your fellow Liverpool supporters are salivating all over a Torres-Cassano partnership.

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