As Italy prepare for a delicate game against Georgia, the Azzurri can enjoy the unusual situation of the media not focusing entirely on them. Recent developments in the domestic game have allowed Marcello Lippi and his men to prepare for this tie in a reasonably tranquil environment – extraordinary given the dismal performances the reigning world champions have given over the summer.
Last weekend, Serie A delivered two big results, the Derby della Madonnina won by Inter 4-0 and the Roma-Juventus clash in the Stadio Olimpico with the Bianconeri winning 3-1. These two games are still hot topics of discussion in the peninsula particularly the latter which led to the resignation of Luciano Spalletti, the longest standing Roma Coach, who will be replaced by former Chelsea and Juventus Boss Claudio Ranieri. These two games have also given Lippi some head-scratching thoughts. Saturday’s clash in Milan injured midfield engine Gennaro Gattuso who will be unavailable for both international games this time around. Spalletti’s last game in charge earned Daniele De Rossi a call-up despite a ban which will keep him out of the Georgia game, yet he will aggregate himself to the rest of his teammates in Turin to prepare for Bulgaria. Furthermore, despite a solid performance in Rome, Amauri misses out alongside Alessandro Del Piero.
The exclusion of these two players must come as something of a surprise after selection lead Lippi’s side to be nicknamed ItalJuve. The C.T. already expressed his admiration for the Turin based side earlier in the summer when he backed them to win the Scudetto – much to the disapproval of Inter boss Jose Mourinho. This week Lippi has gone one further by involving eight names from Ciro Ferrara’s court in his training. As well as the perennial Gianluigi Buffon, Fabio Cannavaro and Fabio Grosso, Giorgio Chiellini and Nicola Legrottaglie leave the strong possibility of an all Bianconeri back-five unit, alhough it is more likely Gianluca Zambrotta of Milan will control the right-back position.
In addition to Gattuso’s injury it would appear that despite his call-up, Claudio Marchisio – another Juve man – could miss out on the trip to Georgia, should he not recover from a knock picked up last weekend. The situation brought Marco Marchionni back into the Azzurri side after almost three years, although it is unlikely he will start. More likely is a three man midfield with Angelo Palombo, Andrea Pirlo and Gaetano D’Agostino. Up front there are likely to be two strikers supported by Mauro Camoranesi in a winger or attacking midfielder position. Alberto Gilardino is in contention but alongside him it will be tight between Antonio Di Natale, Fabio Quagliarella and Vincenzo Iaquinta, all of whom have enjoyed good starts in Serie A with their respective clubs. Giuseppe Rossi of Villarreal is now the only Azzurri man to play outside of Italy, he joins the squad but expect him to start on the bench.
Georgia has had a terrible World Cup qualifying campaign and is officially out of the running for next summer’s tournament. Yet after a terrible showing in the Confederations Cup and only a draw against Switzerland in a summer friendly, Italy appear to be a shadow of the team that ruled Germany 2006. Despite this, Lippi and the side’s veterans are preaching that it will be the strength of the group to get them out of this lull and on a plane to South Africa, and they intend to prove this against Georgia. For Inter, Milan, Juventus and all the others, the 2009/10 season started a few weeks ago – for Italy it starts now.
– Italy Camp Focus – And it came to pass… – June 23, 2009 – A reflection of the Azzurri at the Confederations Cup, plus links to Football Italiano’s full coverage of the competition
FIFA World Cup 2010 Qualifying – UEFA Group 8
September 6, 2008 – Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium, Larnaca
Cyprus 1-2 Italy – Aloneftis 28; Di Natale 8, 90
September 10, 2008 – Stadio Friuli, Udine
Italy 2-0 Georgia – De Rossi 17, 89
October 11, 2008 – Vasil Levski National Stadium, Sofia
Bulgaria 0-0 Italy
October 15, 2008 – Via del Mare, Lecce
Italy 2-1 Montenegro – Aquilani 8,29; Vučinić 19
March 28, 2009 – Pod Goricom, Podgorica
Montenegro 0-2 Italy – Pirlo 11, Pazzini 73
April 1, 2009 – Stadio San Nicola, Bari
Italy 1-1 Republic of Ireland – Iaquinta 10; Keane 87
September 5, 2009 – Boris Paichadze Stadium, Tbilisi
Georgia vs. Italy
September 9, 2009 – Stadio Olimpico, Turin
Italy vs. Bulgaria
October 10, 2009 – Croke Park, Dublin
Republic of Ireland vs. Italy
October 14, 2009 – venue tbc
Italy vs. Cyprus
World Cup South Africa 2010 Final draw – December 4, 2009