|Goalkeepers: Amelia (Livorno), De Sanctis (Sevilla)|
|Defenders: Barzagli (Palermo), F.Cannavaro (Real Madrid), Cassetti (Roma), Grosso (Lyon), Materazzi (Inter), Oddo (Milan), Zambrotta (Barcelona)|
|Midfielders: Ambrosini (Milan), Aquilani (Roma), De Rossi (Roma), Perrotta (Roma), Pirlo (Milan)|
|Forwards: Borriello (Genoa), Di Natale (Udinese), Palladino (Juventus), Quagliarella (Udinese), Toni (Bayern Munich)|
Alessandro Gamberini will be joining the Azzurri group shortly, replacing the injured Franco Semioli. Marco Materazzi is struggling with some back problems, but should regularly feature in the squad for Wednesday’s friendly match against Portugal. So should Marco Borriello, despite the knock the Genoa striker picked up in the match vs. Catania. Perusing the rest of the Azzurri call-ups however, aside from the injured Gattuso and Camoranesi, it is surprising not to find common household names such as Del Piero, Cassano, Gilardino, Iaquinta, and Panucci.
For Roberto Donadoni this is perfectly normal, as the Italian coach is “planning to test a few additional options” in light of the upcoming Euro 2008 tournament this summer. “Iaquinta? Del Piero? Cassano? Gilardino? I would rather like you asked me about Cassetti and Borriello” declared Donadoni with a smile, not hiding the sarcasm in his voice however.
For Gazzetta dello Sport, the Italian coach was a bit on defensive today for his press interviews, ready to defend his picks with sometimes direct, sometimes enigmatic answers that leave everything to interpretation. “All the absentees I have not called up need not to worry” said the coach. “They do need to worry if they are not playing well, but there’s more than 4 months before the tournament starts. If I was certain about which players to bring along to Austria this summer, I would immediately leave for holiday. Instead I will continue to follow games and collect information to make a more informed decision later on.”
When asked about including Raffaele Palladino in the recent call-ups (the Juventus player isn’t having one of his best months), Donadoni replied: “Find me a valuable alternative as a right midfielder. I called up Semioli precisely for that reason, it’s not like we got a lot of choices in Italy at the moment.”
As the questions became more pressing concerning the ‘big-name’ absentees, Donadoni had to spend more time elaborating the answers. “Gilardino? Alberto is part of the past and present of the Azzurri squad, he just needs to continue giving his best effort. Cassano? He’s the player I know best. As a player, he’s the one that psychologically needs the biggest stimuli, but he must also fine-tune some other aspects of his explosive character. He’s growing and getting better, I’m waiting with the confidence that his time will come. Del Piero? Those that think he’s out of the team for good are wrong, even though in that role I want a specific type of player. Yes he’s been scoring often lately, but 7 goals do not make a player irreplaceable. However Del Piero is an intelligent man, he knows the situation perfectly well and keeps our frequent discussions in mind“.
Donadoni also revealed some details, for the first time, on the international retirement of Cristiano Zanetti, who has been one of the best Juventus players this season to the point of making him an irreplaceable piece of the Bianconeri midfield. “I spoke to him on the phone over a year ago, and he let me know then he was done with the national team“.
Regarding the recent criticism to Serie A referees (not the brightest of months for them, with many officiating mistakes week in week out), the Azzurri coach came to the rescue of the Italian men in black: “I don’t like this type of attitude everyone is having against them, there’s a lot of hypocrisy going on even from the managers. We must learn to accept their mistakes, otherwise the alternative is thinking they all are corrupt and dishonest.”
Finally, on Portugal the Italian coach made a typical Donadoni-esque comment: “It’s a great team with great personality, this will be a very important and very difficult match. Having only one day of preparation time will not be easy, but I have full confidence in the boys. I know they will give their full efforts, as always“.
More details should be revealed in the Tuesday training session, but the absentee/injury list makes guessing Wednesday’s formation a bit easier.
In goal (with Buffon still recovering from back problems) the presence of vice-Gigi man Amelia is almost guaranteed, while more doubts lie in the defensive line-up. Materazzi skipped today’s training session, but in case he doesn’t feature we should still see some fairly familiar faces: Oddo, Cannavaro, Barzagli, Zambrotta the most likely solution.
In midfield, the absence of Gattuso due to injury puts a dent in Donadoni’s plans, but there are plenty of valid alternatives. Hypothesizing a 4-2-3-1 formation, the two defensive-mid spots should go to Ambrosini and Pirlo, with Perrotta as the offensive playmaker surrounded by Di Natale and Quagliarella (or Palladino) on the wings. Toni the obvious choice as the lone striker.
Posted in Azzurri |