Monday October 8 2012
Prandelli explains Italy choices

Italy boss Cesare Prandelli has told Antonio Cassano that his international career is not over, while he’s admitted to being disappointed by Mario Balotelli.

Despite a fine start to his Inter career, Cassano has again been omitted from the squad for the second batch of World Cup qualifiers.

“Cassano? I don’t consider his or Antonio Di Natale’s cycles to be over,” he stated at Coverciano on Monday.

“Right now, I want to try out a few younger players. But they will be up for consideration again if they are in the right condition.”

One player who has returned to the set-up is Balotelli after he missed the first two qualifiers in order to undergo eye surgery.

“It upset me that he had the operation while there were international games, but I still decided to call him up as he has talent,” the former Fiorentina boss continued. “We now need to understand if he wants to become a champion.

“He must awaken the pride in himself and demonstrate attachment to the jersey for his sake and that of the national side.”

Italy will face Armenia and Denmark this month, but there are a few question marks over a number of players.

Mimmo Criscito is back in after he was omitted from the Euro 2012 squad because of the betting inquiry, while Daniele De Rossi and Pablo Daniel Osvaldo were left out of the Roma side on Sunday.

“I am delighted to have Criscito available again. Now that everything has been resolved I can again consider him.

“The decision to leave him out of Euro 2012 was very painful on a technical and human level. I’m sure that he’ll forget all about it once he steps out on to the pitch.

“Osvaldo and De Rossi? Zdenek Zeman obviously had fresher players at his disposal. I don’t really have anything in particular to say about it.

“De Rossi and Osvaldo have always been at my disposal on national duty and they’ve been able to train twice a day. Knowing Zeman, it may have been a type of provocation.

“We have two players who are not in great psychological shape in De Rossi and Balotelli. We’ll need to work on their pride.”

The tactician again underlined his willingness to give youth a chance after Under-21 stars Marco Verratti and Stephan El Shaarawy were selected.

“I consider Marco to be a player who can be used in any position across the midfield,” he stated.

“El Shaarawy is a young boy that must be followed, he represents our future and we should therefore keep a close eye on him.”

There was also inevitable questions on tactics after the Azzurri fielded a 3-5-2, 4-3-1-2 and a 4-3-3 in games against Bulgaria and Malta last month.

“I don’t really want to spend too much time discussing a three or a four-man defence. We’ve made some precise tactical decisions over these past two years and we want to continue along this path.

“The way I see, the most important thing is the way the side interpret a game and the mentality with which the team plays with. But it is clear that our formation will depend on how our rivals line up.”