In English-speaking footballing circles, 'Italian' is synonymous with 'defensive'. When Serie A matches end 0-0, Premier League-centric analysts feel comfortable proclaiming that the match was yet another 'typical boring Serie A' encounter. Italy conceded just two goals in their 2010 World Cup winning campaign. Stereotypical Catenaccio.
Italy conceded just two goals in qualifying, but their recent performances have been less encouraging, and it might be time to shake things up in the back. In their final tune-up friendly against Russia, the Italian defense was a shambles, conceding three goals.
It would be easy for Cesare Prandelli to just throw out the Juventus back line, claim that they won Serie A and that they have great chemistry, and absolve himself of any responsibility if Italy fail to progress to the quarterfinals at Euro 2012. He could probably get away with this without being roasted by the media, even the segments of the media that are not-so-subtly anti-Juventus. It's a reasonable thing to do, but it's also a cop-out.
Italy's most gifted central defender is also their least experienced. His name is Angelo Ogbonna, and he played for Torino in Serie B this season. He only has three caps for Italy and his only start in an azzurri shirt was in a 1-0 loss to the United States, but there wasn't a player on the pitch who was less at fault for that loss.
It's certainly a risky proposition, and Prandelli would be more or less putting his job on the line with that risk. If he picks Ogbonna and he struggles, Prandelli will probably be ripped to shreds for playing a Serie B player. But the potential reward of a great result against Spain is worth the risk. Ogbonna is the most naturally talented defender in the Italy team, save for perhaps Giorgio Chiellini, but Chiellini is an automatic starter at left central defense in a back three. Ogbonna would play next to him in the center, and he's a better matchup for Fernando Llorente or Fernando Torres than Leonardo Bonucci.
Ogbonna isn't likely to start, but Prandelli might start thinking about making changes in the future the first time Bonucci is turned by Torres or out-jumped by Llorente.