Tuesday June 18 2013
Prandelli: 'Changes against Japan'

Cesare Prandelli admits “there could be two, three or even four” changes as Italy face Japan in the Confederations Cup on Wednesday night.

The Azzurri won their tournament opener 2-1 against Mexico with goals from Andrea Pirlo and Mario Balotelli. Today the squad presented Pirlo with a commemorative jersey marking his 100th cap.

The next encounter with Alberto Zaccheroni’s Japan is at 23.00 UK time (22.00 GMT) in Recife.

“Mexico won the Olympics, so it was not easy to force them into playing differently,” said the Coach in his Press conference.

“Now we have to take on Japan, a side to be feared led by a great Coach like Zaccheroni who knows how to get the best out of his players’ characteristics.

“He has a squad that is very concentrated and committed, a very interesting mix of players.”

It was reported Prandelli will stick with the 4-3-2-1 system, but introduce Christian Maggio and Alberto Aquilani for Ignazio Abate and Claudio Marchisio.

“I cannot give you the line-up now because we still need the most important training session. After I am sure that everyone is fit, I will think about how to face a very dangerous team.

“It’s not so much the issue of fielding two strikers as setting out a team that knows how to attack and defend.

“It’s possible there will be two, three or even four modifications, though it depends on this last training session and who is in the best shape, especially as we used up a lot of energy on Sunday.”

The tactician criticised Balotelli after the win over Mexico because he keeps “showing off his muscles” – getting booked for taking off his shirt to celebrate. Prandelli was asked whether the son of Ghanaian parents adopted as a baby by an Italian family was helping to fight the issue of racism in Italian football.

“Mario can set the example, even if he needs to improve his behaviour a little bit. It is always difficult to talk about Mario, because he can always do something weird from one moment to the next, but he is very motivated to shine in the Azzurri jersey.

“The squad is also supportive and these things can help him to grow up. He has extraordinary potential and we’ve always said that. We need to put him in the condition to do well, but he too has to contribute – which he is doing.”

The Azzurri watched Italy’s performance in the Under-21 European Championship Final, where they lost 4-2 to Spain.

“The lads played a wonderful tournament. We are still a little behind Spain, because they are convinced of seeking a result through good football, whereas we only manage that at times. Marco Verratti, Lorenzo Insigne, Alessandro Florenzi and Fabio Borini are ready to play for the senior Nazionale.”

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