Scottish Premier League

Macdonald pays tribute to fans

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Wed, 26 Jun 2013 19:03:00

Spain defender Alvaro Arbeloa is certain Italy will not roll over on Thursday as they did in the Euro 2012 final.

The world champions meet Italy in the Confederations Cup semi-final (kick-off 8pm) in a repeat of last year's European Championships final, in which an all-conquering Spain side brushed Cesare Prandelli's team aside 4-0 in Kiev.

Italy's defensive problems have not disappeared entirely - Brazil raced to a 4-2 win in the final group game - but vibrant displays against Mexico and Japan have given Arbeloa and his colleagues food for thought.

When asked which Italy would turn up in Fortaleza, he told Marca: "I don't know. I don't think they will be the same side we faced in the final of the Euros, though. They were a bit more carefree and wanted more of the ball so that was better for us."

The Real Madrid full-back agreed that Italy no longer bank on a rigid defensive structure to grind out results, rather basing their game around a fluid attacking trident orchestrated by playmaker Andrea Pirlo.

"It's not the Italy team that used 'catenaccio', where seven or eight players piled back into the defence," Arbeloa added.

"This Italy side is full of technically gifted players, with Pirlo there to bend the team to his will. This is indeed a different Italy side, but all that matter is that we maintain our own style of play."

Chelsea striker Fernando Torres, who scored five goals in the group stages, will fancy his chances of starting but coach Vicente del Bosque could turn to Roberto Soldado of Valencia instead.

Italy, meanwhile, are without Mario Balotelli after the striker flew back to Milan with a leg injury.

His AC Milan team-mate, full-back Ignazio Abate, and Paris St Germain goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu are also doubtful to feature but Pirlo should after missing the Brazil game.

Claudio Marchisio would otherwise continue in his place and the Juventus midfielder reminded his colleagues of their convincing display against Spain at the beginning of last year's Euros.

He told "We have to make sure we keep it tight, like we did in that game. We put the world champions in a lot of difficulty on that occasion.

"We messed up in the final but that can only help us to avoid making similar mistakes this time round."

The Jambos number one, along with Ryan Stevenson and Jamie Hamill, agreed to accept reduced salaries in a bid to help the Edinburgh outfit come through administration.

Hearts owe £25million to Lithuanian companies UBIG and Ukio Bankas.

UBIG is now waiting to be put into administration after its assets were frozen, while Ukio Bankas will soon be liquidated after a Kaunas court declared it insolvent.

The threat of court action over a partially-paid £100,000 tax bill sparked the decision to place Hearts into administration earlier this month.

Macdonald praised supporters, who have been buying season tickets in an attempt to aid the club's chances of survival.

He told the Hearts website: "They have been fantastic, buying so many season tickets.

"Hopefully more of them keep doing that.

"I had to think carefully about taking the cut as I have a family and a mortgage to pay.

"But at the end of the day this club means everything to me and it's a wee thank you to the fans for what they have done."

Administrators BDO axed 14 members of staff in a cost-cutting measure after taking over the running of the club.

And Macdonald admits he is relishing the return to pre-season and the chance to take his mind off off-field matters.

He added: "I have to admit it's not something I usually look forward to but I can't wait to get back into training tomorrow.

"The last few days have been extremely difficult for me personally as I have seen a lot of good people at the club lose their jobs.

"Getting back in amongst the boys and the banter will be good."

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