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Wednesday June 27 2012
De Rossi – a universal soldier

Euro 2012 should be remembered as the international consecration of Daniele De Rossi, writes Antonio Labbate.

It would be easy to think that the Italian midfield consisted of just Andrea Pirlo in the aftermath of the shoot-out victory over England. His awe-inspiring 120-minute lesson on how to pass the ball and dictate play was sublimely punctuated with his nonchalant chipped shoot-out penalty in Kiev on Sunday. His display was class personified.

As Pirlo dinked home his spot-kick that seemed to take an age to ripple the back of the net, Daniele De Rossi watched from the sidelines. Withdrawn late into normal time because of a sciatic nerve problem, he knew he would have been one of the five penalty takers given his past shoot-out experiences at World Cup 2006 and Euro 2008. He wasn’t involved this time around, but if the Azzurri are in the semi-finals of the competition then it has just as much to do with De Rossi’s tenacity as Pirlo’s technique.

Euro 2012, no matter how it ends, should be remembered as the consecration of De Rossi on the international stage. Sure he’s no newcomer to major tournaments given that this is his fourth, but, for the first time, he’s arguably been able to convince non-regular watchers of Serie A that he’s the real deal and provide an explanation as to why he is Roma’s highest earner.

Whether fielded in a three-man defence, as he was against Spain and Croatia, or in a midfield position as against Ireland and England, the man with 76 caps has underlined just how fundamental he is to an Italy side who – outside of Gigi Buffon and Pirlo – do not have the selection of world-class talents that they could rely on in the past. This Italy needed a De Rossi at his peak and they’ve got him.

While Pirlo pulls the strings, there is little doubt that De Rossi is just as fundamental to boss Cesare Prandelli. Described as a universal player by the CT, the tactician’s decision to rely on De Rossi as a centre-back in the absence of Andrea Barzagli underlined how much faith the former Fiorentina boss has in the Roman’s all-round ability. The outcome? He was a monster at the back against Spain.

He didn’t quite make the same sort of notable impression against Croatia and then Ireland, but pupil turned into master on Sunday night when Capitan Futuro came up against idol Steven Gerrard. While Roy Hodgson’s pragmatic tactical shackles made it somewhat easier for the Azzurri to take control of the tie, De Rossi won his personal battle with the Liverpool captain despite a shocking miss from close range.

“There was no competition, De Rossi won the Gerrard duel 3-0,” stated 1982 World Cup hero Paolo Rossi. “He’s a difference maker for this national side, certainly one of the best in the squad. De Rossi has finally exploded and has reached that stage of maturity which allows him to play to his maximum in whatever role Prandelli uses him in. He’s one of the best midfielders in the world and it’s just a shame that he has this injury problem. Let’s hope it is not too serious.”

Less than 48 hours to go and it is still uncertain whether De Rossi, scorer of 10 international goals, will be declared fit to face Germany. He missed the epic semi-final clash between the two nations in the 2006 through suspension, after his four-match ban for his needless elbow on Brian McBride in the 1-1 draw with America. But that was a different De Rossi back then, he was all potential, but now – as Euro 2012 has illustrated – he’s the finished product.

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Have your say...
De Rossi has been a monster in this tournament with his great tackling and pressuring. Every time the ball is near him it seems to slow down, attackers reach a full stop. I think he now holds the Gattuso role in the national team, but he is better at passing. I think Milan need a player like De Rossi more than anything.
on the 1st July, 2012 at 6:24pm
De Rossi has been magnificent in this competition and has tackled, passed and fought for every ball setting up a platform (along with Montolivo and Marchisio) for Pirlo to play his superb passing game.
Let's hope he is fit for tomorrow as he may prove critical for an Azzurri win!
on the 30th June, 2012 at 9:45pm
Good article and well predicted as De Rossi was first-class against the Germans.

He would be most welcome in England; with Italian domestic football in a mess he might like to take the plunge. A definite asset to a top Premier League team he would add quality to effort. We have plenty of the latter but are sadly lacking players in the first-mentioned requirement at international level.

Unlike the Italian Lampard, Gerrard, Rooney, Beckham will all look back on disappointing careers
on the 29th June, 2012 at 10:57pm
Totally agree De Rossi is and has been phenomenal but try telling english fans,players and pundits about superior italian football and you get scoffed at. that would be an interesting article reviewing english media coverage of Italy.

borders in racism.
on the 29th June, 2012 at 7:35pm
Marchisio is very inconsistent, ...amazing against Ireland, ..... against England he did not touch te ball once....ok maybe once.....
on the 28th June, 2012 at 6:03pm
Totally disagree. He is completely overrated, he's casual in his passing and gives the ball away in dangerous positions. I'd drop him for the semi final and play nocerino in his place.
on the 28th June, 2012 at 11:53am
This article is brilliant there is nobody like de rossi and nobody as good he is brilliant
on the 27th June, 2012 at 11:14pm
Something we romanisti know all too well, glad to see him get the recognition on a global scale.

I can only chuckle at these people complaining that he's too defensive and not as attacking this tournament. It's too hilarious to even to even argue.

And no, he can still be world class while playing at Roma. When Real Madrid, Manchester City, etc have been salivating over him year after year, I'd think he's proved his quality. I guess Totti has never been world class then? Poor reasoning.
on the 27th June, 2012 at 11:10pm
everybody calm down. de rossi still missed an absolute sitter and his long range effort that hit the post was a total shank. he spread the ball around decently, but no defense splitting passes. italy actually looked more dangerous going forward once he came off. allowed marchisio to get on the ball a bit, who then picked out nocerino (de rossi's replacement) for one of the best chances of the match. daniele is a very solid efensive mi, but pls mr labbate, don't try and sell me a vacuum cleaner..
on the 27th June, 2012 at 10:56pm
At last some recognition for de king. Daniele has had a wonderful tournament and he will be in the team of the tournament. Whether in defence or midfield he has been a star for the azzurri. So hope he is fit for the Germany game as we need him badly. Italia. Italia. Italia. Italia.
on the 27th June, 2012 at 8:24pm
De Rossi has impressed me so far this tournament including the qualifying games. I thought he did well when he played back in WC 2006 but he went through a patch of really bad form in 2010. In the 2010 World cup I think he passed the ball to the opposing team more than his team mates! Good to see him back on form again, a vital part of the Azzurri!
on the 27th June, 2012 at 5:32pm
I agree with that and it's kind of my point, that he is no longer played as the box-to-box midfielder he used to be, therefore nullifying a big part of his game. Don't get me wrong, I think he has been very good this year, but he could've been a world-class complete midfielder who can attack and defend, instead of a very good defensive midfielder with an eye for a pass. Essentially, a world-class Marchisio. This would've benefited Italy no end, especially with the lack of goals this tournament.
on the 27th June, 2012 at 5:00pm
great write Antonio. De Rossi is a monster and deserves to be mentioned.

some of his perfectly times challenges against England were amazing. Aggresive, strong and not afraid to us his body and throw himself in there and let the opposition know he is about. I hope he is about for the Germany game. we need power and consitency against ZE GERMANS

I would have De Rossi in the Italia squad any day
on the 27th June, 2012 at 4:57pm
we need a defensive de rossi and judging by his tattoo on his leg that tells what sort of player he is. with him, pirlo and the emerging marchisio we have potentially 3 of the best midfielders in the world. we need him in midfield rather than defence even tho he did a good job there, as in the first 10mins of england game when they tried to mark pirlo he dropped back and started passing the ball about maybe not as good as pirlo but effectively, hes just as important as pirlo for me. forza italia
on the 27th June, 2012 at 2:34pm
Top stuff. I've been waiting for days for something on De Rossi and I'm glad that he is getting the recognition that he deserves. While Pirlo provides the 'spoon', De Rossi is the knife and fork - the guy who cuts into the opposition. Grande Daniele, Forza Italia!
on the 27th June, 2012 at 2:32pm
Despite a failure season, Luis Enrique brought to serie A two innovations: 1, a english championship striker - Borini - turns to be an italian international, 2, DDR plays CB.

Thanks Luis
on the 27th June, 2012 at 2:31pm
Everyone saying De Rossi is not as good as in years past truly didn't watch him play this year. Sure, his role has changed to a more defensive one, but what's wrong with that? This past season, he was the only glue holding a pile of pop-sickle sticks that was Roma's De together. His defensive prowess and ability to drive the game forward from his own third are world class. Every large team in Europe wants him in that position. Italian fans should be proud to have a player like him in the squad
on the 27th June, 2012 at 2:20pm
mark my words doubters, danielle de rossi, regardless if italy wins tomorrow or not, will be selected to the ALL-XL EURO 2012 team. he is quality, he is a champion. in terms of his role and particular characteristics, there is no one else in the world like him. no one. sooo many of his peers and managers have basically come out and said he is one of a kind. unique in his role and characteristics. now i just wish some of these FANS can understand what it is that we are speaking about here.
on the 27th June, 2012 at 2:18pm
Carlo//

You can't expect him to be a Box-to-Box player when this entire season he has played as a regista. DeRossi goes two ways, he is a regista and a defensivly great midfielder at the same time. He don't have the speed he used to have when he was younger but his eye for the game and longrange passes has increased alot and that's mostly the reason why he is the type of player he is now and not a box-to-box player.

DeRossi don't need a Pirlo-type but Pirlo need a DeRossi-type next to him.
on the 27th June, 2012 at 1:39pm
I agree that De Rossi plays a more defensive game now than he used to a few years ago.

However, we must remember that this Italy team does not have the defensive midfield juggernaut that was Gattuso. It is Gattuso's role that De Rossi is effectively filling in.

De Rossi remains class and hope he's back for the semi!
on the 27th June, 2012 at 1:33pm
he and pirlo are the best midfielders in the world according to ancellotti, mancini and capello (all said it this week). mancini really wants de rossi at man city
on the 27th June, 2012 at 1:21pm
what constitutes a world class player? I'd really like to know. a empty signifier!
on the 27th June, 2012 at 1:02pm
SOrry Mr. Labbate,I cant agree with you. De Rossi has changed a lot. He was a playermaker, passer, shooter...now he's a purely defensive midfielder.He was better with the ball.Lot's of ridiculusly wrong passes in this euro. It's true that he's so important to this italy side, but if Prandelli packs the midfield with 5 players, I dont think Italy will be much affected with De Rossi's absence. ONLY PIRLO & BUFFON are irreplacable in 2012 Squad, ONLY !
on the 27th June, 2012 at 12:30pm
danielle for his role and characteristics is the #1 in the world at defensive center midfield. for the qualities he possess and the strength and determination he has, there is no one other. a play starter, that can also defend and tackle is something that most players must admire because most midfielders don't have both. genius pirlo owes de rossi a lot of gratitude because pirlo is free and can be the magician player he is because of a guy like danielle that soldiers his every battle. universal
on the 27th June, 2012 at 12:17pm
I can't help but feel that the De Rossi of the last few years is not the same player as De Rossi of old. He is much better defensively, has an amazing range of passes, has grown up and can be relied upon much more, but where is the attacking spirit we used to see? Where is the drive to get the team going forward, the box-to-box midfielder of a few years ago? The man who could be everywhere (attack and defence) on the pitch?
on the 27th June, 2012 at 11:15am
100% agree, great great competitor for the azzurri. His work rate is exceptional
on the 27th June, 2012 at 11:12am
De Rossi is class & has proved he must be one of the first on the sheet for all international matches. Though he was superb in defence he must remain in midfield as this allows Pirlo to be free. Certanly Il Capitano of the future but I am sure he does not mind waiting a long time for this as that would mean Buffon is still at the top of his game and continuing to star for The Azzurri. Without wanting to upset Roma fans does he need to move to a top club to become World Class. FORZA AZZURRI
on the 27th June, 2012 at 11:03am
De Rossi is absolutely world class! His technique, passing, reading of the game, tackling abilities are exceptional. At this tournament he has shown his true worth. I have criticized him in the past for sometimes appearing lazy, sluggish, and not imposing himself enough in games. But if he can maintain his current levels and stay injury free he can be incredible for club and country for years to come.
on the 27th June, 2012 at 10:46am
Roman Gladiator, say no more
on the 27th June, 2012 at 10:07am

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