venerdì 30 maggio 2014

Prandelli opts for youth in Ireland friendly

Rossi 'like first World Cup game' at Wembley

(ANSA) - Rome, May 30 - Italy coach Cesare Prandelli is opting for youth in his attempt to find an attack that can pierce the defences of England and Uruguay at this summer's World Cup in Brazil.

Prandelli on Friday announced he would field Ciro Immobile, Giuseppe Rossi and Marco Verratti from the start of their key warm-up game for the Brazil World Cup against Ireland at Wembley Saturday. "Tomorrow, against Ireland, Immobile, Rossi and Verratti will play from the first minute," Prandelli said at the Azzurri's pre-World Cup training camp. It will be the first time Torino's Serie A top goalscorer Immobile, injury-prone Fiorentina striker Rossi and Paris Saint-Germain attacking midfielder Verratti will take the field together. The three have a combined age of 72: Immobile is 24, Rossi 27 and Verratti 21. Prandelli said the starting line-up would be Sirigu, Darmian, Paletta, Bonucci, De Sciglio, Thiago Motta, Verratti, Montolivo, Marchisio, Rossi and Immobile.

Prandelli attempted to boost Rossi's confidence by predicting a fine performance from the Viola man. "I'm sure Giuseppe Rossi will play a great game tomorrow," said Prandelli, who kept faith with the US-born former Villarreal star for the Brazil tournament through several injury scares. "It'll be like the first match of the World Cup," said the coach, who will lead his men out for their opening game against England on June 14 in Brazil. "He's recovered, he only has to overcome his fear of tackles," said Prandelli of the young forward, most of whose injuries have been leg fractures. Rossi, who managed 12 goals in his much-shortened season, 10 behind Immobile, is expected to play as second striker alongside AC Milan's Mario Balotelli. Late Thursday, in a hugely unexpected development, Immobile signed a 20-million-euro deal to join Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund.

The revelation of the season with 22 goals from 33 starts that forced him into the Italy front line, Naples-born Immobile played for Torino but was half-owned by his first club Juventus, who just landed their third straight and 30th overall scudetto. Juve bought back Torino's half before offloading him onto Borussia amid speculation they were unwilling to see him go to one of their Serie A rivals. Immobile replaces Robert Lewandowski who moved to Bayern Munich on a free transfer. Immobile, who has scored freely with both his feet and head this year, is expected to make a big impact in Brazil. He has played once for Italy, failing to score.

Prandelli is likely to pick Immobile as a first-choice replacement for main target man Balotelli. The playing time Immobile gets in Brazil will depend on how well the sometimes erratic Balotelli performs and how far Italy get in the tournament if they proceed from one of the toughest groups. As well as traditional powerhouses England and Uruguay the group features Costa Rica - styled as minnows, but no means a pushover.

Italy are seventh or eighth favourites to land their fifth World Cup crown, according to most betting outfits. Brazil and Spain top the betting followed by Germany, Argentina, Uruguay and dark horses Belgium. The Azzurri start their campaign against England in Manaus, a city in the middle of the Amazon rain forest. They travel around 1,450 km to the Atlantic coast for their other two group games, against Costa Rica and Uruguay, in Recife and Natal respectively.

Prandelli will trim down his 30-man preliminary squad to a definitive 23-man roster on June 1. After facing Ireland in London on Saturday, the Azzurri have another pre-World Cup friendly against Luxembourg in Verona on June 4. 

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