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Roberto Donadoni & Gianluca Zambrotta

Azzurri World Cup Heroes - then and now: Roberto Donadoni (1994) & Gianluca Zambrotta - by Peter Bourne

Roberto Donadoni and Gianluca Zambrotta may favour the right-flank but there are distinct differences in their style and role for their respective Azzurri. Donadoni played 63 times for Italy, making his debut after the 1986 World Cup in a 2-0 win over Greece. He played at both the 1990 and ‘94 World Cup Finals. An integral part of the Milan team of the late 1980s and 90s, Donadoni was a vital cog in Arrigo Sacchi’s 4-4-2 formation. Possessing a wise footballing brain, Donadoni built up a telepathic understanding with Mauro Tassotti on the right-hand side and although his strength was going forward, he also understood his defensive responsibilities.

His speciality was turning in very tight spaces with his pace and mesmeric dribbling qualities making him something of a crowd-favourite. Donadoni immediately became a fixture in the team under Azeglio Vicini and was part of the side which reached the semi-finals of Euro ‘88. By Italia ‘90 he had the chance to test his ability on the world stage when his acute balance of work rate and wizardry again came to the fore. Unfortunately, despite having a fine tournament he is remembered for a penalty miss in the heartbreaking semi-final defeat against Argentina.

Under Arrigo Sacchi he remained a fixture in the side and helped the team to qualify for the United States. His creativity, however, was stifled in a side which placed more emphasis on the physical aspects of the game. Consequently, Donadoni suffered a slightly frustrating tournament. It’s testament to his quality though that even when he played out his final days at the New York Metrostars he was drafted into Sacchi’s squad for Euro ‘96.

Zambrotta is a different type of player. Emerging with Como and Bari, then later the Azzurrini he is suited to a 3-5-2 system and is the essence of the modern wing-back. More astute defensively than Donadoni, he lacks the Milan legend’s skill and trickery on the ball. A forceful competitor, Zambrotta has pace and a good engine and his adaptability enables him to often fill a central midfield void. The 24-year-old made his debut as a Bari player in 1999 against Norway before forcing himself into the squad for Euro 2000 having moved to Juve.

He played in four games before being sent-off for two yellow cards in the semi-final win over Holland. Zambrotta missed the Final but added to his growing reputation. He hasn’t been out of Giovanni Trapattoni’s plans and a more mature player should come of age in 2002. Trap has encouraged him to get forward more and the presence of Antonino Asta and Angelo Di Livio in recent squads suggests the Coach is aware of his attacking limitations.


This article is entitled "Azzurri World Cup Heroes - then and now Roberto Donadoni (1994) & Gianluca Zambrotta", taken from Football Italia. The images are not original.

Related links:
» Football Italia
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