Was Claudio Gentile Italy’s Misunderstood Man? & More News Here

The delusion surrounding Claudio Gentile is that of a hatchet man. Yes, his surname is probably one of many extra inappropriate names ever given to a footballer. But what does the info say in comparison with the everyday remedy he acquired from the media?


“I’ve always had a distrust of centre-backs who can play.”

Jack Charlton pulls no punches along with his footballing philosophy.

Nowadays, the mere point out of ‘man-marking’ has the identical impact as committing blasphemy in a personal viewers with the Pope. In an period the place assaults begin with the keeper, the place everybody needs to be assured in carrying the ball and utilizing each toes, the stereotypical defender, extra apprehensive at stopping the opponent relatively than beginning his workforce’s actions, isn’t any extra.  

Italy have at all times been linked with that stereotype. The nation of Catenaccio, of the imply defence, of tight 0-0 attracts and 1-0 wins, of Machiavellian, cynical “the end justifies the means approach,” of parking the bus, of placing 11 males behind the ball. The nation of astute tactical fouls, the place defenders use any trick to cease the opposition from scoring.

Despite the brilliance of defenders like Gaetano Scirea, Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Nesta and Fabio Cannavaro, it’s exhausting to shake that label when one of many extra notorious names in your superb historical past is the one and solely Claudio Gentile. There’s no smoke with out fireplace.

Claudio Gentile will at all times be related to Italy’s well-known 1982 World Cup win. But in a darkish method. He had nothing to do with the rebirth of Paolo Rossi, the expertise of Dino Zoff, the talents of Bruno Conti and Giancarlo Antognoni, the vitality of Marco Tardelli or the runs of Antonio Cabrini. He will probably be without end pictured subsequent to Zico and his ripped shirt. Or disparaged for the variety of fouls (exaggerated in nearly every thing that was written concerning the event) he dedicated on Diego Maradona in Italy’s second-round victory in opposition to Argentina.

Claudio Gentile and Zico

Is Gentile soccer’s most misunderstood man?

Gentile grew up in Libya and swiftly moved again to Italy when Muammar Gaddafi rose to energy, so there’s an unlucky irony in individuals utilizing the ruler’s title as Gentile’s nickname. It was understandably one thing he objected to. Juventus signed him from Varese in 1973 and he performed with the Old Lady for 11 years, profitable six league titles, two Italian cups, one UEFA Cup and one Cup Winners’ Cup. Not a nasty haul.

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On April 19, 1975 Gentile made his worldwide debut in a really apt 0-0 draw in opposition to Poland in Rome within the Euro ’76 qualifiers. He performed 71 occasions for the Azzurri, bowing out after Italy’s unsuccessful Euro ’84 qualifying marketing campaign. But in 1978 and 1982, a interval the place Italy redeemed themselves after a disappointing 1974 World Cup marketing campaign, Gentile was very a lot on the centre of the motion.

Let’s look at whether or not his popularity because the grasp of the darkish arts is justified.

Despite his unhealthy boy popularity, he was solely despatched off as soon as in his profession and even that wasn’t a straight crimson.

In World Cup 1978, it was really the Netherlands, the nation famed for its Total Football, who conceded probably the most fouls, each in complete and on a per-game foundation.

1978 World Cup Disciplinary Table:

Team Games Played Fouls Conceded Fouls per Game Yellow Cards Red Cards
Netherlands 7 182 26.0 7 1
France 3 68 22.7 3
Iran 3 68 22.7 3
Brazil 7 147 21.0 9
Hungary 3 63 21.0 2 2
Sweden 3 62 20.7 1
Poland 6 122 20.3 3
Argentina 7 141 20.1 5
Italy 7 130 18.6 6
Tunisia 3 54 18.0 1

With each Willy van de Kerkhof and Arie Haan topping the charts with 23 fouls apiece, Gentile was eighth with 18 fouls and his solely yellow card got here in Italy’s final sport in opposition to Brazil, a useless rubber of a sport.  

1978 World Cup - Claudio Gentile Fouls

But the legend of Gentile actually took flight in World Cup 1982. Once once more, the info will help us separate the reality from the parable.

1982 World Cup Disciplinary Table:

Team Games Played Fouls Conceded Fouls per sport Yellow Cards Red Cards
Cameroon 3 70 23.3 4
Poland 7 149 21.3 10
Peru 3 62 20.7 2
N. Ireland 5 99 19.8 4 1
England 5 94 18.8 3
Italy 7 130 18.6 11
W. Germany 7 130 18.6 8
Chile 3 54 18.0 4
Yugoslavia 3 54 18.0 3
El Salvador 3 52 17.3 5
France 7 120 17.1 6

At Spain 1982, Poland dedicated probably the most fouls in complete and Cameroon registered the best common per sport. Italy ranked sixth on fouls per sport, tied with West Germany.

Now, it’s true that Gentile dedicated probably the most fouls all through the event, 24 in complete together with two handballs, however his numbers break up by sport aren’t that intimidating. He was responsible of 4 fouls per sport, the fourth-highest determine of gamers on the event. The unhealthy boy of this version was Ibrahim Aoudou of Cameroon, who gave away 17 fouls in simply three matches, at a charge of 5.7 per sport.

Gentile was booked for his third foul on Maradona a couple of minutes earlier than half-time in opposition to Argentina, whereas within the sport in opposition to Brazil he was proven a yellow card inside the first quarter-hour for his second offence in opposition to Zico. That means for many of these two video games the Juventus defender needed to mood his pure man-marking tendencies so as to forestall Italy enjoying with 10 males. It’s value mentioning that it was Argentina, relatively than Gentile’s Italy, who had the poorer disciplinary document within the conflict, receiving three yellows and a crimson in comparison with Italy’s two bookings.

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And the variety of fouls within the sport in opposition to Brazil was break up evenly with 21 per facet.

1982 World Cup - Claudio Gentile Fouls

The legend of Gentile relies on his uncompromising man-marking expertise. His numbers under present his relentless dedication to that function:

Claudio Gentile fouls on single player

But do these numbers replicate the image of the hatchet man many writers like to color? Gentile was a tricky defender in an period the place defending was seen as a optimistic talent in its personal proper. As necessary as creating and attacking.

 “I wasn’t very good at playing football. But I was very good at stopping other people playing football.” That’s Charlton once more, this time speaking about himself.

We get the sensation that, from the protected distance of the opposite finish of the pitch, he would’ve gotten alongside very nicely with Claudio Gentile.


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