Italy boss Cesare Prandelli has defended his selections after naming his preliminary 32-man squad for Euro 2012.
The Azzurri Coach announced his initial party last night, a group of players which surprisingly included Pescara’s Marco Verratti, Siena’s Mattia Destro, Atalanta’s Ezequiel Schelotto and Luca Cigarini, as well as Juve’s Emanuele Giaccherini.
“When you are not called up you feel like you have suffered an injustice, but I made my decisions on merit,” the tactician stated on Monday.
“I’d like to see who could have been called up instead of Antonio Di Natale and Sebastian Giovinco…”
Prandelli’s attacking selections have been questioned given that there doesn’t seem to be a real centre-forward amongst the six forwards called.
“Six attackers are what I need for the way we will play,” he explained.
“We evaluated which players could give us 100 per cent in terms of the team overall. Those left out were so for tactical reasons.
“Today there is no longer a static player in attack. Mario Balotelli can be used in that role, but also on the flanks.
“It’s the same for Di Natale and Giovinco who have scored a lot without being a reference point for defenders.”
As expected, Prandelli has called up Antonio Cassano after he recovered from heart surgery and enigmatic Balotelli.
“Cassano did all that he could to be here and he’s made it,” the former Fiorentina man added. “He’s shown that he loves this shirt. I prefer to have enthusiastic players in the squad.
“Balotelli hasn’t played that much recently, but he’s won a title and is one of the emerging talents that we have to help explode.”
Among the shock call-ups were Verratti, 19, Giaccherini and Destro.
“There are a lot of reasons why we thought about Verratti,” explained the former Juventus midfielder.
“The first are his qualities, which have also been seen in the Under-21s. I want to continue that work, also as a back-up to Andrea Pirlo.
“We also wanted to make it clear that we are following players in Serie B. I also wanted to call him up to demonstrate that there is a clear technical project in place here.
“Giaccherini is a player who can be used in three positions and I hope he can be useful.
“Destro is not a classical central striker, he’s a modern attacker. I want to see him play for a place. I want him to work hard on a daily basis to prove that he deserves to be here.”
Prandelli, who expects to have Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini fit in time after injury, was then asked about tactics.
“We don’t have a lot of time. We’ll try a few things out, but the base will be the formation that we used in qualifying [4-3-1-2]. There is a nucleus in midfield that is there to create.
“I want to pick a team that plays fluid football. The important thing now is to find some balance within the side. The pitch will give us an answer.
“It’s hard to put responsibility on one player. We want to create a side with many elements, but it is clear that having Pirlo is an advantage. Everyone would want a player like him.
“I don’t have a minimum objective. Every Coach thinks about getting right to the end. From next Monday we’ll start work on the pitch with the intention of winning.”
Prandelli was also asked about the prospect of fielding a side based on Juventus’ championship team.
“When I first arrived I was criticised for picking so many Juventus players, but their Scudetto win proved me right, Juventus are the only Italian club who focus strongly on young Italians.”
Prandelli also reiterated his desire to remain on the bench until his contract expires in two years’ time.
“I’ve always said that I want to respect my contract until after the 2014 World Cup, however it will depend on what happens at the European Championship.”