Tuesday October 11 2011
Maldini analyses Prandelli's Italy

Paolo Maldini will receive an award before tonight's Italy-Northern Ireland game and gives his view of the current Azzurri squad.

The now retired legend will be honoured at the Stadio Adriatico in Pescara along with Gigi Buffon, Fabio Cannavaro and Dino Zoff for having notched up more than 100 caps.

There are also reports Maldini could take on a new job with Cesare Prandelli as the Nazionale's observer or director.

“This is a new squad. Prandelli did well to give enthusiasm to both the new arrivals and the more experienced players, even those who were there in 2006,” Maldini told the Gazzetta dello Sport.

“The youngsters have grown, but we're not yet at the same level as the best. There aren't that many options outside the current crop.

“At Euro 2012 we need players who are ready at that moment, such as Andrea Barzagli, while the younger elements are more long-term choices.

“As for the other defenders, Leonardo Bonucci needs time, especially in a big club like Juventus. Andrea Ranocchia has improved a great deal and can still do much more. Giorgio Chiellini can play left-back or in the centre, so when he matures tactically, he can continue his career in the middle at the top level.”

Italy are unbeaten in Euro 2012 qualifying, having conceded only two goals in seven wins and two draws.

“This Italy has done well in the qualifiers, but also the friendlies against Germany and Spain,” continued Maldini.

“They can push into the top tier along with Holland, although in my view when Spain give their all, they are the strongest side in the world.”

Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £9.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit: