Italy coach Roberto Donadoni is banking on Naples to provide the goals to shoot down Portugal on Wednesday night, with four of the five strikers selected in his squad – Fabio Quagliarella, Antonio Di Natale, Raffaele Palladino and Marco Borriello – born in the city.
The FC Bayern München forward Luca Toni, who comes from Modena, is the only exception for the game in Zurich, although most of the attention has been on Borriello. The 25-year-old, formerly of AC Milan, has been rewarded for a remarkable first season at Genoa CFC; with 12 goals in 18 league appearances he is the top Italian scorer in Serie A, and only David Trezeguet, Zlatan Ibrahimović and Adrian Mutu have managed more. It had been assumed Donadoni would recall Alessandro Del Piero or the revitalised Antonio Cassano but instead the Azzurri coach has rewarded in-form Borriello.
'Fantastic to play'
Genoa's last Italian international was Gennaro Ruotolo, who was fielded by Azeglio Vicini for the friendly against Denmark in June 1991. Seventeen years later Borriello is the next contender to represent the Rossoblù at international level, although he is keen that the contribution of everyone at the club should not be overlooked. "I want to thank Donadoni, Genoa's president [Enrico] Preziosi, my coach and team-mates and all the fans," he said. "It would be fantastic to play, even if just for a few minutes."
Palladino included again
Juventus forward Palladino had reacted with similar incredulity to his first Azzurri call-up last November, saying: "When they told me about it I thought it was a joke because I could not believe it." Having made his senior debut in the 3-1 home win against the Faroe Islands with which Italy concluded their successful UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying campaign, and become an important figure at Juve with 17 Serie A appearances this season, the 23-year-old has been given another chance to impress against the FIFA World Cup semi-finalists in Switzerland.
A more familiar face in the squad to play Portugal is the 30-year-old Di Natale, who has won 15 caps and is expected to lead the line from the start alongside his Udinese Calcio team-mate Quagliarella. The pair have contributed 14 league goals this season to help the Bianconeri into sixth position and, having missed out on World Cup glory in Germany two years ago, have every motivation to ensure they are among the 23 players Donadoni picks for Austria and Switzerland this summer.
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