Martedì, 25 Settembre 2018

Soccer: Italy to rejig attack for Bulgaria


(By Paul Virgo)
Rome, September 5 - Italy coach Cesare Prandelli is
set to rejig his attack for Friday's encounter with Bulgaria as
his side seek to close in on qualification for the World Cup.
The Azzurri are four points clear at the top of European
Qualifying Group B and can guarantee themselves a spot at next
year's tournament in Brazil with two games to spare if they beat
Bulgaria in Palermo and defeat the Czech Republic in Turin on
But the absence of five regulars, including suspended
forwards Mario Balotelli and Pablo Osvaldo, will force
Prandelli to make adjustments.
AC Milan's Balotelli and Osvaldo, who moved from AS Roma to
Premier League Southampton in the close season, will be
available for the Czech match along with Milan playmaker
Riccardo Montolivo, who is also suspended for Friday's clash.
But defender Andrea Barzagli is out of both games with an
Achilles tendon problem and his Juventus teammate Claudio
Marchisio, a midfielder, has been sidelined by a knee injury.
Prandelli is expected to field Genoa's veteran Alberto
Gilardino on his own up front Friday with support from the
flanks from Lazio's Antonio Candreva and Napoli's Lorenzo
Insigne or Sunderland's Emanuele Giaccherini.
Captain Gianluigi Buffon, who will match Fabio Cannavaro's
record of 136 Italy caps if he plays against Bulgaria and the
Czechs, said he was "moderately worried" about the upcoming
"I always am before games like these, which are crucial for
qualification (for a major tournament)," added the 35-year-old
Juventus keeper ahead of the game against the second-placed
"We've deserved qualification on the basis of what we've
done so far, but it is not tangible yet.
"We'll have to face these games with great attention to
take another step forward.
"Bulgaria are a solid side who know how to tackle these
types of game. They know how to defend and counterattack".
Buffon said Wednesday that he had no intention of retiring
from international football after the World Cup, stressing he
would always be available for the national team.
"Representing my country, my nation, is something I refuse
to do without. It's something very few people have the fortune
to be able to do," Buffon told reporters.
"That's why it'll never be me who is the one who says
'enough'. It would be a sort of desertion.
"If one day they decide not to call me up any more, or they
put me on the bench for the good of the national team, there
won't be any problems.
"I remain ready for orders...only when they tell me to
stand aside will I acknowledge this and say goodbye".
Buffon has been considered the world's top keeper for much
of his career, although there have been suggestions he is past
his best after some poor performances recently.
The run-up to the Bulgaria clash has been overshadowed to
some degree by speculation about who will be Italy's next coach,
amid reports Prandelli is set to step down to return to club
football after the World Cup.
The favourites are Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri, who
admitted Wednesday that he wants to coach the national team one
day, and Japan boss Alberto Zaccheroni.

© Riproduzione riservata

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