Italy boss Cesare Prandelli says that he already knows which 23 players he’ll be taking to Euro 2012 – but he’s challenged his squad to change his mind.
Prandelli has named a 32-man preliminary list for the European Championship and training began today, even if players from Juventus, Napoli, Torino, Pescara and Paris Saint-Germain won’t arrive until Saturday.
“I have the final 23 in my head, but everyone in the squad has the ability to change my mind,” he stated at Coverciano on Monday.
“We have to create an environment of enthusiasm,” continued the tactician. “There is a desire to create a generous side. That way we will be able to take on any situation without problems.
“Unfortunately we don’t have a lot of time, but now we can only have positive thoughts.
“There are different interpretations when it comes to football. I base mine on the quality of players that I have at my disposal.
“I want my Italy to show how much work we have already done. I want my side to prove that they are a team.”
Prandelli’s main task in these next few weeks will be to find the right striking combination after Antonio Cassano missed most of the season following heart surgery, while Giuseppe Rossi has been ruled out with injury.
“Mario Balotelli and Cassano are finally together, but I might then opt for other players,” Prandelli laughed. “We’ll look to work on the quality of our play in order to get the best value from our attackers.
“Cassano’s strength is the way he is right now. A few days ago he said that he wanted to be in the final 23. He’s not sure of his place and that is pleasing.
“I’ve been clear with him – I can’t take players with me who are not 100 per cent because there isn’t the time to recover.
“Balotelli needs to think that this is an extraordinary opportunity for him. I hope that we only have to talk about what he does on the pitch. We’ll have to protect him from criticism.”
Prandelli has included some surprise names in his squad such as Pescara’s Marco Verratti and Mattia Destro of Siena. He admitted today that Lorenzo Insigne was a contender too.
“Insigne and Ciro Immobile of Pescara? They are important players from the Under-21 set-up and I admit that I did think about Insigne.
“Thanks to Pescara boss Zdenek Zeman, we’ve uncovered some interesting youngsters for the future. They have shown that they can handle the pressure.
“I’ve seen some good players with potential in Serie B this term.”
Prandelli was also unconcerned that his Juventus players would be adversely affected by last night’s Coppa Italia defeat to Napoli.
“For those Juventus players in my squad, they will still be motivated from their Scudetto win and they’ll now want to be protagonists with Italy.”
He was also asked about the fitness of Giorgio Chiellini given his thigh muscle problem and the importance of playmaker Andrea Pirlo.
“We’ll have to see the results of further tests, but the fact that Chiellini made himself available three days before he was scheduled to join the squad says it all. He wants to get back as soon as possible.
“Pirlo is a champion, a world class player, but if we base everything around him then we will become predictable. There are other players in midfield who we can count on.”
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £5,000 monthly.