Claudio Marchisio has faith in Alberto Gilardino and joked about Spain’s strip poker allegations. “Hopefully they’ll be tired...”
The Italy midfielder took the Press conference in Fortaleza ahead of Thursday’s Confederations Cup semi-final.
Naturally, he was asked about Mario Balotelli and Ignazio Abate leaving the tournament due to injury, as the Azzurri tested out a new 3-4-2-1 system in training today.
“Balotelli is an important loss. We all know how strong Mario is and he wanted to get ‘sporting revenge’ on Spain. Balotelli has matured and was making the difference, even sacrificing himself for the good of the team, which was unlikely in the past.
“However, Gilardino’s goals speak for him. He is a World Cup winner and I’m sure he will do well.”
Spain won all their group games, but confidence was shaken by local media claiming the theft of money from the hotel rooms of several players occurred during a game of strip poker.
“Hopefully they’ll be tired....” joked Marchisio.
“Spain are the best team out there and the champions of everything, but we start out on a level footing and are not beaten before we even begin.
“A year ago we played the Euro 2012 Final, now we are playing against them for the Confederations Cup semi-final. We have grown and will play with real desire to make our mark.
“We have to use the first Euro 2012 group game, that 1-1 draw, as our reference point rather than the Final.”
Italy do appear to be going back to a three-man defence, which proved far more successful in the 1-1 draw than an old-fashioned approach in the 4-0 Final defeat.
The Azzurri need to strengthen their defensive record in general, having conceded seven goals in their last two games against Japan and Brazil.
“We are playing in an enormous country and the climate really changes from one city to another,” insisted Marchisio.
“It feels like playing a tournament all over Europe, so it’s not easy to prepare for games. Against Japan we were able to turn around a negative start and also reacted well with Brazil, even if the result did not reward us that time.
“We are not at the top of our form, but hunger and determination also play a part.”
Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi missed the 4-2 defeat to Brazil with a calf problem and suspension respectively.
“Pirlo wants to be there and has no intention of missing out. The Coach will make the decision, but I think he’ll play. De Rossi is one of the most important players in the side and it’s great to have him back after his ban.”
There are reports in Italy, England and Argentina tonight that Carlos Tevez has agreed a £10m transfer to Juventus.
“These champions are very welcome, as long as they are motivated to wear the Bianconeri jersey,” concluded Juve midfielder Marchisio.