BLOG ITALIA
Monday March 28 2011
The boy from Brazil

Born in Brazil, but with roots in Rovigo, Thiago Motta is fast becoming a symbol of the new Italy. James Horncastle reports

It started with a hat-trick and a historic 9-4 win against France at the Velodrome Sempione in Milan on January 18, 1920. Ermanno Aebi, a striker with a Swiss father and Italian mother, who had first kicked a ball at school in Neuchatel before coming to the attention of Giovanni Paramithiotti, a founder of a new club called Internazionale, famously became the first Oriundo to play and score for Italy.

BLOG ITALIA
Monday March 28 2011
Centre of attention

Ukraine represents a significant marker in Cesare Prandelli's progress in moulding a new Italy team centred on midfield development, says Rob Paton

Now in firm control of Group C qualification, recent performances have even surprised the players. Yet to name the same starting line-up in successive qualifiers, four consecutive clean sheets – their best return in Euro qualifying for 36 years – attention turns to a tactical influence on the side.

NEWS
Monday March 28 2011
Italy XI named for Ukraine friendly

Italy have made seven changes ahead of Tuesday's friendly against Ukraine in Kiev, but the 4-3-1-2 formation remains.

Bologna goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano replaces Gigi Buffon between the sticks.

Genoa's Domenico Criscito steps in for Federico Balzaretti at full-back while Sampdoria's Daniele Gastaldello partners Giorgio Chiellini in the centre of defence.

Palermo's Antonio Nocerino gets a start in midfield alongside Juventus' Claudio Marchisio, while Riccardo Montolivo keeps his place.

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NEWS
Monday March 28 2011
Prandelli expects a real game

Cesare Prandelli has praised his Italy players and expects Tuesday's trip to Ukraine to be a 'real match' not a friendly.

Italy have prepared well ahead of their encounter in Kiev, recording a 1-0 victory against Slovenia in Ljubljana.

They remain top of their Euro 2012 qualifying group with a six-point lead on the chasing pack.

"I have seen a motivated group. There is the desire to play," Prandelli said.

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NEWS
Monday March 28 2011
Gilardino to captain Italy

Alberto Gilardino is delighted to get the chance to captain Italy when they face Ukraine in Kiev on Tuesday.

The 28-year-old will lead the line alongside Villarreal striker Giuseppe Rossi.

"Wearing the captain's armband tomorrow is a great present that the national team has given me," Gilardino smiled.

"It's a great honour when one thinks about the many great Italy captains, from Fabio Cannavaro to Gigi Buffon."

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NEWS
Sunday March 27 2011
Azzurri to be transformed in Kiev

Italy are set to change eight of their starting XI for Tuesday's friendly against Ukraine, including Alberto Gilardino and Giuseppe Rossi.

Cesare Prandelli said he would rotate the squad after the 1-0 win over Slovenia to test out all his players during this break for international duty.

It is reported he will change eight of the XI who started in Ljubljana on Friday, keeping only Giorgio Chiellini, Riccardo Montolivo and Alberto Aquilani.

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NEWS
Saturday March 26 2011
Chiellini: 'Italy's turning point'

Giorgio Chiellini believes Italy reached “a turning point” in Cesare Prandelli's reign with their victory in Slovenia.

“We knew this was a turning point in our growth and improvement. We realised that the friendly with Germany was a huge boost in confidence and showed us what we can do,” he said of last night's 1-0 win in Ljubljana.

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NEWS
Saturday March 26 2011
Aquilani admires 'imposing' Azzurri

Alberto Aquilani hails Cesare Prandelli's new-look Italy midfield. “We were able to impose our football in Slovenia.”

The Juventus man was part of a diamond midfield without a single solely defensive figure, joining Stefano Mauri, Riccardo Montolivo and Thiago Motta.

“I don't know if it was my best performance for the Azzurri, but we were concentrated and came here knowing that in the past we had problems,” he said of the 1-0 victory.

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BLOG ITALIA
Saturday March 26 2011
21st Century Azzurri

Cesare Prandelli is taking Italy into modern football at last, says Susy Campanale after the victory in Slovenia

Italian football was battered a bruised after the disastrous 2010 World Cup and Marcello Lippi's refusal to accept the sport had changed. Cesare Prandelli's job was not only to bring in a new generation, but also to transform the way the Nazionale approached its work. I am glad to say that with the 1-0 victory in Slovenia, we're on the right path.

NEWS
Saturday March 26 2011
Prandelli: 'Midfield was key'

Cesare Prandelli said in his post-match Press conference that “dominating the midfield was the key” as Italy gain in confidence.

“I saw a good game between two teams who tried to win it with good football,” he said of the 1-0 victory on Friday night.

“After the result we can say that we were a bit better than Slovenia, but nothing changes in my view of the side.”

The win puts the Azzurri six points clear at the top of Euro 2012 qualifying Group C.

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