Wednesday 7 December 2016

Prandelli hails mentor Trap after naming much-changed Azzurri line-up

Published 07/06/2011 | 05:00

Seasoned followers of Serie A may recognise the names, but some Irish fans might have to consult search engines to figure out who some of the men in blue are this evening.

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Cesare Prandelli has taken an axe to the Azzurri since taking over from Marcello Lippi after last year's World Cup, with just two players -- Andrea Pirlo and Giorgio Chiellini -- surviving from the team that got a crucial draw in the South Africa 2010 qualifier at Croke Park in October 2009.

The former Fiorentina coach has been in the role just over a year and has impressed in Euro 2012 qualifying -- the Italians have one foot in Poland and Ukraine already, having won five and drawn one of their six games in a group featuring Serbia, Slovenia and Northern Ireland.

And there should be plenty of goodwill on the sidelines, as Prandelli played alongside Ireland assistant manager Marco Tardelli under Giovanni Trapattoni at Juventus, and he still holds his old boss in high regard.

Values

"He is a big influence as he is not only a great coach, but he is also able to transmit the right values to his players," said Prandelli in Liege last night.

"The major thing I have learned from Trap is determination. Juventus had some big players and champions, but every time he went down to the pitch he still managed to transmit this willingness to work and spirit to win."

Italy are short some bodies today, but the depth of options available to Prandelli means there will be some names that will still be familiar to most fans.

Five players are retained from Friday's 3-0 win over Estonia in Modena, with Chiellini the only member of the back four to be retained. Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is also rested, with Emiliano Viviano of Bologna deputising.

The midfield looks like the strongest area, as the injured Alberto Aquilani is replaced by Palermo's Antonio Nocerino alongside Pirlo, Riccardo Montolivo and Claudio Marchisio, who all played at the weekend.

Up front, the on-fire Giuseppe Rossi leads the line after opening the scoring against Estonia, alongside Inter's Giampaolo Pazzini, who hit the net in that game after coming off the bench.

The main talking point in the Italian camp this week is the future destination of Rossi, currently plying his trade at Villarreal after an unsuccessful spell at Manchester United. A host of Italian clubs are chasing the striker, who has also caught the eye of European champions Barcelona.

Irish Independent

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