Tuesday June 26 2012
Montolivo warns Germany

Half-German Riccardo Montolivo warns Italy will be “tough to beat” in the semi-final and hasn’t been put off taking penalties following his miss.

The Milan midfielder’s mother is German and he speaks the language fluently, which has seen him linked with a move to Bayern Munich in the past.

“I don’t know if I’ll start Thursday’s match, we’ll see what the Coach decides,” he said in the Press conference.

“Even if in the last two years I’ve worn the Azzurri jersey often, I never assumed that I would be first choice at Euro 2012. Obviously being on the bench in the first two games didn’t make me happy.

“I am satisfied with my performance against England, as I think I had a positive match in a difficult role. As a trequartista, you have to move between the lines and support the strikers.

“I agree with my father, who says I am a Number 8, as I prefer to play behind the ball rather than in front of it.”

The quarter-final with England was most notable for Montolivo’s missed penalty in the shoot-out.

“When you get a penalty wrong, the whole world collapses on top of you. When I got back to the centre-circle and received the embraces of my teammates, I had positive sensations, as I was convinced we’d go through regardless.

“If we went to penalties again then clearly I would go back on to the spot to take one.”

Germany are the tournament favourites, having won every single match in qualifying and during the competition proper.

“They are a solid side who have been playing together regularly, are packed with talent and done well for the last three tournaments,” continued Montolivo.

“In that sense, they have a slight advantage over Italy. However, we will be tough to beat and give everything we’ve got on the pitch.

“I really admire Mesut Ozil and Manuel Neuer, but as Cesare Prandelli said, Germany are not invincible. They play more football than England, so we’ll be under pressure defensively, but will also have more space in attack.

“I admit some of my heart is in Germany, as my mother is German and until the age of 15 I spent every summer with my grandparents near Hamburg. I have many friends there, but I do feel Italian.”

It is going to be a big summer for Montolivo at club level too, as he is moving to Milan on a free transfer after his contract with Fiorentina expired.

“In recent years I think I played well with Fiorentina, even if clearly it’s easier to play for the Nazionale when you’ve got teammates like Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi.

“My mission from now to next year is to prove what I’m made of, both for Italy and Milan.”

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