Tuesday September 6 2011
Balzaretti: 'A year to earn my place'

Federico Balzaretti was a change to the line-up against Slovenia and assures “there's a whole year ahead to earn my place in the squad.”

The Palermo full-back was on the bench against the Faroe Islands, but stepped in for the 1-0 victory over Slovenia that secured their Euro 2012 ticket.

“I'm happy, above all that we qualified, as individual performances are not as important as what we achieved in this campaign.

“It's my first year with the Nazionale, so it was already wonderful to earn a ticket to Euro 2012. There's a whole year ahead to earn my place in the squad.

“We're doing great teamwork at the moment and everyone has the right spirit during training, as we have fun, so that all contributes to the result.

“However, this is a small step and we mustn't think we have finished the job. There's a whole year before the tournament.”

It was not the brightest performance from the Azzurri, who waited until the 84th minute to break through with Giampaolo Pazzini.

“This was my first 90 minutes of the season, as I hadn't played since July, so was a little bit concerned. I also had some ankle problems, but I recovered well and am in good shape.

“We started well, then lost a bit of intensity, but the introduction of Pazzini and Mario Balotelli gave us an extra spark and we'd gone close many times before the goal.”

Balzaretti was heavily linked with Paris Saint-Germain this summer and could move in January, mainly because his fiancée is the prima ballerina at the Paris Opera.

“It's not true. There is interest from Paris Saint-Germain, but I am focused on Palermo and not accustomed to thinking six months into the future. Now she's with me in Palermo during her pregnancy and we'll see what happens next year. Obviously, the intention is to stay together.”

Balzaretti returns from international duty to prepare for the Serie A season with Palermo, but in his absence Coach Stefano Pioli has been sacked to make way for Devis Mangia.

“It's a bit strange for me, as I am coming back to a whole new Coach and different players. There has been this sea-change at Palermo, but our first game is against Inter, so we have nothing to lose.”

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