Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

After Cannavaro injury, Italy finally settles down and starts looking ahead to the Netherlands

After Cannavaro injury, Italy finally settles down and starts looking ahead to the Netherlands

Italy is still three days away from its first match at the European Championship and has already had plenty of excitement.
Six hours after the team's plane touched down in Vienna, captain Fabio Cannavaro injured his ankle and was ruled out of the tournament following a tackle in training by Giorgio Chiellini. A day later, temperamental forward Antonio Cassano grew angry when Chiellini attempted a similar tackle on him.
But since Cannavaro's surgery on Wednesday, the World Cup champions have settled down into a routine and are now starting to turn their focus to Monday's opener against the Netherlands.
"Italy loses a lot without Cannavaro, but we've got the same desire we had at the World Cup," midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo said Friday. "Plus, there's extra motivation because Italy hasn't won a European Championship in 40 years. It's time to bring this trophy home. I came here to win."
Pirlo earned man of the match honors in three of the seven games during Italy's World Cup run two years ago. He was also a member of Italy's team that won the Under-21 European Championship in nearby Bratislava, Slovakia, in 2000 _ the same year France became the only team to follow a World Cup title with the continental triumph.
"Apart from the coach, Italy is still the same and we're stronger mentally _ we know what we're capable of," Pirlo said.
The main questions in coach Roberto Donadoni's lineup are in defense, with Marco Materazzi, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini vying for the two spots in the center, and Gianluca Zambrotta, Christian Panucci and Fabio Grosso battling at right and left back.
The defense could have its hands full against Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy.
"It's going to be a very tough game against a very organized team," Materazzi said of the Netherlands. "We're going to have to run a lot.
"Van Nistelrooy is a great striker that is tough to defend," Materazzi said, adding that he has never faced the Real Madrid forward: "No, I've never had that misfortune."
And Italy's defensive options could be further limited if the injury that forced Panucci out of training on Friday turns out to be serious.
Materazzi and Grosso both made big contributions at the World Cup, but have not assured starting spots for this tournament.
Grosso became known for the screams he let out at the World Cup after scoring a decisive goal in extra time of the semifinal with Germany and then again after converting the decisive kick in the penalty shootout against France in the final.
"I just hope whoever is screaming at the end is Italian, because that will mean we've won the Euros too," Grosso said. "That's the most important thing. It doesn't matter whether it's me or someone else."
Grosso transferred from Inter Milan to Lyon a year ago, and won the French league and cup titles this season.
"It's always a bit tough at first when you leave Italy, but I had a fantastic season on and off the pitch," Grosso said. "I'm very happy with the choice I made and I hope to remain with Lyon for a long time."
Grosso scored only one goal with Lyon and was often criticized in the French press.
"I've been keeping the goals on hold until this European Championship," he said with a smile. "I've got a lot of confidence and I know what I'm capable of, but I also know my limits. That's why I'm always trying to improve."
In training Thursday, Grosso's pass from the left flank wound its way through several defenders before Luca Toni redirected the ball into the back of the net. A few more of those passes, and Grosso may push Zambrotta onto the bench.
Pirlo's place in the lineup has never been in doubt. He may be the most valuable player on Italy's team.
Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Chelsea are each willing to pay as much as euro50 million (US$78 million) for Pirlo's services, according to reports that surfaces in Italy on Friday.
But Pirlo isn't budging. He's content to stay with AC Milan, the club he's won two Champions League titles with.
"Personally, I haven't spoken with anyone. But my agent has received offers from Spain and England, and that's very flattering. But at this level, 1 million more or less doesn't make a difference, the important thing is reaching the goals you set for yourself," Pirlo said. "I have everything I need at Milan."


Updated : 2021-05-16 23:33 GMT+08:00