Italy-Ireland friendly is a Juventus reunion
It’s going to be a Juventus reunion when Italy meets Ireland in
a friendly in Belgium on Tuesday.
During the early 1980s when Giovanni Trapattoni managed
Juventus, two of his players were Marco Tardelli and Cesare
Trapattoni is now the Ireland coach, Tardelli is his assistant
and Prandelli coaches Italy.
The trio spent a total of six seasons together in Turin, from
1979 to 1985, and their reunion threatens to overshadow the action
on the pitch in Liege, where both Trapattoni and Prandelli plan to
play their reserves.
”Trapattoni is the top. It will be emotional to see him
again,” Prandelli said. ”I know he’ll give me advice. He was one
of the first people to call me when I accepted this job. He’s got
an incredible amount of strength. I don’t know if I would have the
patience to be where he is at the age of (72).”
Trapattoni had a relatively unsuccessful stint as Italy coach at
the 2002 World Cup and 2004 European Championship, and after
winning the 2006 World Cup under Marcello Lippi, the Azzurri
struggled again at last year’s World Cup, when they were eliminated
in the first round.
However, since Prandelli replaced Lippi after the failure in
South Africa the Azzurri have gone unbeaten in six official matches
and hold a comfortable five-point lead in European Championship
qualifying Group C following a 3-0 win over Estonia on Friday.
Ireland, which still hasn’t forgotten Thierry Henry’s hand ball
that prevented it from qualifying for last year’s World Cup, is
level on points with Russia and Slovakia at the top of Group B
after a 2-0 win at Macedonia on Saturday, courtesy of two goals
from Robbie Keane.
”It’s going to be tough to qualify for the Euros but we believe
we can and we want to really badly,” Tardelli told the Gazzetta
dello Sport. ”While we’ve gotten over the bitterness of Henry’s
hand ball, the scar still remains.”
Ireland has excused Keane, John O’Shea, Kevin Kilbane and
first-choice goalkeeper Shay Given from the trip, with Trapattoni
announcing a new forward pairing of Shane Long and Andrew
Likewise, Prandelli will rest first-choice goalkeeper Gianluigi
Buffon and forward Antonio Cassano, calling on Bologna ‘keeper
Emiliano Viviano and Inter Milan striker Giampaolo Pazzini
Prandelli announced the following lineup: Viviano in goal;
Mattia Cassani, Alessandro Gamberini, Giorgio Chiellini and
Domenico Criscito in defense; Claudio Marchisio, Andrea Pirlo and
Antonio Nocerino in midfield; and Riccardo Montolivo directing
Giuseppe Rossi and Pazzini in attack.
Rossi, who scored the opener against Estonia, and Pazzini, who
came off the bench to score the third goal, fit the Barcelona model
of shorter, more technical strikers that Prandelli is aiming
At 1.73 meters (5-foot-8), Rossi is Prandelli’s prototypical
modern forward, while Pazzini is 1.80 meters (5-foot-11), Cassano
is 1.75 meters (5-foot-9) and reserve playmaker Sebastian Giovinco
measures just 1.64 meters (5-foot-5).
”Cesare has players suited for that type of football,”
Italy has called up an extra defender for the match – Angelo
Obinze Ogbonna from Serie B side Torino.
Ogbonna was born in Italy to Nigerian parents.
”I’ve always felt Italian. I turned down an offer from the
Nigeria team a while back and I’m pleased with my choice,” Ogbonna