Italy bid to get back on track

Date published: Monday 24th August 2015 2:11

Italy bid to get back on track

The friendly in Zurich is the only warm-up game the Azzurri will play before opening their European Championship campaign against Spain on June 10.
Cesare Prandelli’s men were set to play Luxembourg in Parma on Tuesday, but that game was cancelled after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit the Emilia Romagna region.
With their last international outing coming back in February, it is not the ideal build-up for the 2006 World Cup winners, but Prandelli is not dwelling on that and is determined to make the most of Friday’s match at the Letzigrund stadium.
“What has happened has happened,” he said on Thursday. “We must use tomorrow’s game as much as possible and give responsibility to the players.
“We know that we are lacking games but we have worked a lot to arrive prepared in terms of tactics.
“I want to see what the condition of my players is considering that this is the first game in a long time.”
Aside from the cancelled match, Italy have also had to contend with other off-field issues this week following the second match-fixing scandal to hit the country in the past six years.
Italy omitted Zenit St Petersburg defender Domenico Criscito from their squad on Monday after he was handed an official notification by the police at the Azzurri’s training headquarters in Coverciano, Florence, of being under investigation.
Twenty-two football clubs and 61 individuals face charges related to a match-fixing ring and betting scandal.
“With regards to the match-fixing situation I feel embarrassed to talk about 40 or 50 rotten individuals,” Prandelli said.
“I just want to focus on tomorrow’s game.”
Regarding his line-up against the Russians, Prandelli has not ruled out playing a three-man attack that would include Mario Balotelli, Antonio Cassano and Riccardo Montolivo.
“It is possible that tomorrow you will see two tactical line-ups,” Prandelli said. “One with three men in attack and another one with a central reference point further back.”
What is almost certain is that Manchester City striker Balotelli, who missed this morning’s training session in Coverciano because of a toothache that forced him to see a dentist, will start.
“Balotelli is serene and motivated, regardless of the toothache,” Prandelli said.
Prandelli is set to rest Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini despite the Juventus defender having recovered from a right thigh strain.
Italy finished top of their qualifying group but lost their last two friendlies against Uruguay and the United States.
In addition to facing Spain, Italy will take on Croatia and the Republic of Ireland in Group C next month.
Russia, meanwhile, will take on the Czech Republic, Greece and co-hosts Poland in Group A.
The Russians, coached by Dick Advocaat, will be looking to keep their unbeaten run going having not tasted defeat since February 2011 – 12 games ago.

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