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Italy: a case for the defence

Published: Wednesday 27 June 2012, 9.36CET
For all the talk of Italy and Germany's attacking prowess, Richard Aikman says it could be the Azzurri's iron-clad defence that makes the difference when the sides meet on Thursday.
by Richard Aikman
from Krakow
 
Published: Wednesday 27 June 2012, 9.36CET

Italy: a case for the defence

For all the talk of Italy and Germany's attacking prowess, Richard Aikman says it could be the Azzurri's iron-clad defence that makes the difference when the sides meet on Thursday.

One of the most reassuring factors about this Italy squad is that it boasts great strength in depth. There are only two outfield players – Fabio Borini and Angelo Ogbonna – that have seen no action at these finals, while everyone who has been called upon has served their country well.

©Getty Images

Alessandro Diamanti could start

Emanuele Giaccherini and Christian Maggio did no wrong in their first two matches, but fell foul of a formation change that benefited the more conventional full-backs Federico Balzaretti and Ignazio Abate. The likes of Antonio Nocerino, Riccardo Montolivo, Alessandro Diamanti and Antonio Di Natale have also made important contributions to the cause.

This means that if Daniele De Rossi fails to recover in time from his sciatica or Antonio Cassano is deemed too burnt out to start on Thursday night, Cesare Prandelli knows that he can trust Nocerino and Diamanti, who both came close to scoring against England, to play in their stead.

The Azzurri coach has deliberately selected a squad of players who suit specific systems and who are capable of fitting in with Italy's expansive style of play, as opposed to those who are simply good players in their own right.

Germany will provide another stern test for Prandelli's charges, who must contend with a side who have scored nine goals at UEFA EURO 2012, yet it should also be noted that for all the talk of Italy's attacking style, they have the second best defence in the competition after Spain. If Germany have more than doubled Italy's strike tally, they have also conceded twice as many goals.

©Getty Images

Italy's Giorgio Chiellini has made a welcome return to training

Giorgio Chiellini appears to have overcome his hamstring problem and with the Italy No3 deployed at left-back, the Azzurri realise that even the fabled German strike force will struggle to find a way through the latest 'blocco Juve'.

Italy have still not lost a competitive match in 14 outings under Prandelli, shipping just four goals in that time. When they have played four at the back their record is better still – only two goals in 12 games. Between two teams committed to attack in Warsaw, it is the best defence that could win the day.

Last updated: 27/06/12 18.31CET

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