BLOG ITALIA
Thursday February 10 2011
Blue shoots of recovery

After an encouraging performance in their 1-1 draw with Germany last night, Scott Fleming extols the promise of Cesare Prandelli's new Italy.

Italy and Germany went at each other with such energy and endeavour in Dortmund last night that it seemed like a continuation of the 2006 World Cup semi-final. It appeared as if the last four years hadn't happened, as if time had stood still, and the sad thing is that for the Azzurri it had.

During those wasted years, Marcello Lippi promulgated the myth that Italy's young players were weak, fragile and unreliable, that they would wilt the moment you put them on the field against international class opposition. How wrong he was.

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Wednesday February 9 2011
Rossi: 'We wanted the victory'

Goalscorer Giuseppe Rossi couldn't help but feel disappointed at only snatching a draw in Dortmund.

“I dedicate the goal to my father. It almost went as planned, but we were missing the victory,” he said of Italy's 1-1 result.

“It's still a positive draw away from home against a great side, although a shame as we didn't quite get there. We are improving and must continue along this path.”

Rossi came off the bench at half-time to make up for Miroslav Klose's early opener.

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Wednesday February 9 2011
Loew and Bierhoff admire Azzurri

Germany manager Joachim Loew and director Oliver Bierhoff admired Italy's performance. “They have great individual talents.”

The Azzurri are unbeaten against one of their great rivals in 16 years and extended that run with a 1-1 draw in Dortmund.

“We didn't beat Italy because they are a good side with great individual talents. We tried our best and played a good game, but were unable to get the victory,” said Loew.

The Coach only called two strikers for this game, as Mario Gomez pulled out with an injury.

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Wednesday February 9 2011
Buffon: 'I felt secure and saw a team'

Gianluigi Buffon returned to the scene of the 2006 World Cup semi-final with faith in this new generation and himself. “I felt very secure.”

The shot-stopper was making his first international appearance since June and was the only remaining player from that legendary victory in Dortmund, as Daniele De Rossi was suspended for that tie.

“It's great to be back. I didn't need to bring the spirit of 2006 to my teammates,” he said of tonight's 1-1 draw with Germany.

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Wednesday February 9 2011
Giovinco 'pretty calm' on Italy debut

Sebastian Giovinco admits he felt “pretty calm” on his senior Italy debut in Dortmund.

The Under-21 international came off the bench and with his first touch took a free kick from a dangerous position, proving he was not short on confidence.

“It was an important debut, but I felt pretty calm. Coach Cesare Prandelli told me to take that free kick as soon as I came on, although I might've taken it anyway! I should've done better, but it was my first touch.

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Wednesday February 9 2011
Ranocchia: 'Italy becoming a real team'

Andrea Ranocchia believes the experimental Italy were “a real team tonight against Germany” and are beginning to gel.

“I think it was a great performance from a side that is growing,” the Inter defender said of their 1-1 draw.

“We struggled at the start, as we had to get a hold of them and their movement, then once we did that it was a fine game.

“We saw a genuine team tonight and if you aren't then you won't go far against a Germany side that has been working together for a few years now.

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Wednesday February 9 2011
Prandelli: 'Let Cassano get on with it'

Italy boss Cesare Prandelli has told the Italian media to let Antonio Cassano do his talking on the pitch.

Prandelli is fed up with fielding questions about the Milan playmaker.

Speaking to Rai Sport before this evening's friendly with Germany, Prandelli said: "Enough talking about Cassano. We have to stop it.

"I now want to see the kind of behaviour from Antonio that in my opinion will be extraordinary.

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Wednesday February 9 2011
Zidane: 'I'll never apologise' to Matrix

Zinedine Zidane insists he “will never apologise” for head-butting Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup Final.

The French legend was sent off in his last ever competitive game, having struck Italy defender Materazzi in the chest during extra time.

“At first it was difficult, I cannot deny that,” Zidane told L'Equipe newspaper of the fall-out from that incident.

“I was provoked on that occasion and it doesn't seem right for me to say sorry, even if I'm not proud of the gesture. But I will never apologise.

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Wednesday February 9 2011
Materazzi: 'Zidane should apologise...'

Marco Materazzi replied to Zinedine Zidane's refusal to apologise for the 2006 headbutt. “He should apologise to himself for ruining his career.”

The French legend told L'Equipe that he would “never apologise” for the head-butt in the 2006 World Cup Final that marked the last moment of his professional career.

“I think Zidane should first of all apologise to himself, because it's his career he ruined and not mine,” commented the Inter defender.

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Wednesday February 9 2011
Line-ups: Azzurri back in Dortmund

Antonio Cassano, Giampaolo Pazzini and debutant Thiago Motta start as Italy take on Germany in Dortmund.

The international friendly kicks off at 19.45 UK time and will see the teams clash in the same city as their epic 2006 World Cup semi-final.

Coach Cesare Prandelli welcomes back Cassano and Gianluigi Buffon after long absences, while he reunites the former Sampdoria partnership with Pazzini.

Inter midfielder Thiago Motta starts on his debut for Italy, as the Brazil-born player only got the all-clear from FIFA days before the game.

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