Daniele De Rossi explains why Cesare Prandelli picked him as a centre-back against Spain. “We wanted to play the ball.”
The Roma midfielder was reinvented in the three-man defence for today’s 1-1 draw against the reigning World and European Champions.
“Spain were the toughest opponents of the group, so creating so many chances against them is exactly the game we wanted,” he told Rai Sport.
“I hoped I’d have a good performance! I was quite confident, but had help from my teammates, especially in defence.
“The defeats were friendlies and a few things didn’t go well, while the chaos around us did not help. It was natural to lose a little confidence after the Russia performance and some expected a catastrophe, but that wasn’t the case.
“It was also an entertaining match with scoring opportunities for both sides.”
Spain caused a few surprises too with their line-up, playing a 4-3-3 system without recognised forwards.
“When we got into the locker room we were joking around looking at the teamsheet, as we couldn’t find a striker! So we figured they’d use the Barcelona style without forwards.
“Initially I was worried, as a centre-forward gives you a reference point and allows you to control the space more.
“Instead, I did better in the first half and suffered more against Fernando Torres, who is physically strong and intelligent.
“Prandelli had plenty more talented centre-backs than me, but he wanted someone who could tie the defence to the midfield. With people like Claudio Marchisio, Andrea Pirlo and Thiago Motta, we wanted to play the ball around the pitch.
“We know that my real role is in midfield, but everyone did well and that’s the important thing.”
De Rossi was also asked to comment on the amazing chance Mario Balotelli wasted when it was still 0-0.
“Balotelli did very well to win back the ball, then perhaps he thought the defender had stopped running and rather fell asleep. He may well have also been tired, as he ran a great deal.
“Emanuele Giaccherini has talent, but is also an incredibly hard worker and it’s not easy to make your debut for Italy, let alone in a game like this. There is the risk your legs will be shaky, but he was remarkable.”
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £5,000 monthly.