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Del Piero relishes added responsibility

Published: Friday 13 June 2008, 8.57CET
Alessandro Del Piero's remarkable renaissance for Italy will continue on Friday evening when he captains the Azzurri in their crucial Group C match against Romania.
by Michael Harrold
from Stade de Suisse
Del Piero relishes added responsibility
Alessandro del Piero will captain Italy against Romania ©Getty Images

Tournament statistics

ItalyRomania

Goals scored3
 
1
Total attempts53
 
33
Attempts on target17
 
7
Attempts off target29
 
16
Attempts blocked0
 
0
Attempts against woodwork1
 
1
Corners23
 
9
Offsides15
 
10
Yellow cards9
 
7
Red Cards0
 
0
Fouls committed70
 
47
Fouls suffered79
 
46
Published: Friday 13 June 2008, 8.57CET

Del Piero relishes added responsibility

Alessandro Del Piero's remarkable renaissance for Italy will continue on Friday evening when he captains the Azzurri in their crucial Group C match against Romania.

A veil of secrecy hung over the Italy camp on Thursday evening as they prepared for their crucial Group C tie with Romania at the Letzigrund Stadion.

Great form
Roberto Donadoni spoke of making major changes to the side that had lost 3-0 to the Netherlands on Monday, but was giving little away as he fielded questions from the massed ranks of Italian journalists. All he would confirm was that Giorgio Chiellini would start in defence and that Alessandro Del Piero would indeed be captaining the side. Del Piero's inclusion has been an open secret since he brought Italy to life after coming on as a substitute against the Netherlands. He showed enough to keep his place in the side and now Italy's most-capped player, with 87 appearances, will take over from goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon as skipper. It is a remarkable turnaround for a player who was only on the fringe of coach Donadoni's plans at the turn of the year, but whose superb form since for Juventus has forced the Azzurri coach's hand.

'Turnaround'
"The fact there was a chance I would not make it into the squad and now I am captain for the game somehow reflects the reality of the last couple of months," the 33-year-old said. "Now I just need to look ahead to this game without any pressure to perform, approaching it just like I would in the league." Do that and Italy could have plenty to thank him for. Del Piero scored ten times in the final six weeks of the season to finish the Serie A campaign wth 21 goals and will be looking to provide a similar spark for the Azzurri on Friday. "We have all worked very hard together to prepare for this match," he said. "Now we will need to transform our desire into positive results. When the expectations are high, we usually play at our best. Keeping cool heads is important, but we do that in every game. We need a boost and we'll play with heart."

'Difficult group'
Del Piero's relaxed demeanour belied the pressure on the Azzurri ahead of a match they cannot afford to lose if they are to reach the quarter-finals. The reaction to the loss to the Netherlands back home has been one of anger, but right-back Gianluca Zambrotta is determined his side will make amends aganst Romania. "We made some mistakes in the first game but we also did some things well towards the end and created some good chances," he said. "I think we just need to improve our mentality a bit to be successful. We knew this would be a very difficult group."

Last updated: 13/06/08 18.51CET

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