Italian trio set for chance to shine

Italian trio set for chance to shine

Published Feb. 7, 2011 8:41 p.m. ET

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli is eager to see how Thiago Motta, Alessandro Matri and Sebastian Giovinco perform on their international debuts against Germany in Wednesday's friendly in Dortmund.

Inter Milan midfielder Motta, on-loan Juventus forward Matri and on-loan Parma winger Giovinco could force their way into the reckoning for the Azzurri, who lead their Euro 2012 qualifying group with three wins.

Prandelli said: "It's always a fascinating game against Germany.

"I would make sure that once a year we play a friendly against such a strong rival.


"With respect to the team, we want to bring something new, incorporate new Italian players into the group.

"We want a quality midfield and Motta enters in our plans.

"He can play as a playmaker or in central midfield.

"As for Matri, we had monitored him even before he joined Juventus (on loan from Cagliari last month).

"He is a good finisher.

"Giovinco is good at playing between the two lines and he will help us."

The Azzurri are without Manchester City forward Mario Balotelli as well as AC Milan midfield pair Gennaro Gattuso and Andrea Pirlo, with all three out injured.

The return to the national team of Gianluigi Buffon is also an important development for Prandelli.

Buffon has not featured for Italy since sustaining a back injury at last year's World Cup.

"I am more than happy to see him here," Prandelli said.

"He is a world champion and he has such an extraordinary enthusiasm to play for the national team."

Matri has credited Cagliari after earning his first Italy call-up.

The 26-year-old, who scored two goals in Juve's 3-1 win over Cagliari on Saturday, said: "I want to thank Cagliari because for three and a half years they gave me confidence and playing continuity even when I was not at my best.

"Moreover, they allowed me to join a great club like Juventus."

Matri joined Juve on loan from Cagliari last month having scored 11 goals for the Sardinian outfit this season.

"I never gave up hope that I would one day play for Italy, even when I played at Cagliari," Matri said.

"To be with the national team is a strange feeling because in a week my life has changed so much.

"I have moved from Cagliari to Turin and from Turin to Coverciano (Italy's headquarters), which is every player's dream.

"I hope I don't wake up and I continue to dream."

Inter president Massimo Moratti congratulated Brazil-born Motta following his first call-up.

He said: "Motta's call-up is beautiful news and I'm very happy for him.

"He has done really well and I believe he can truly be useful to the national team."

Motta was just one of 10 Inter players selected by Prandelli for Italy's first test of the year at Dortmund's Signal Iduna Park.

The 28-year-old played for Brazil in the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup but, with the Selecao having been represented by an under-23 side at that tournament, the Azzurri investigated his eligibility to switch allegiance.

He was subsequently included in their squad, though an Italian Football Federation (FIGC) statement read: "The inclusion of Thiago Motta in the squad for Germany-Italy remains subject to formal authorisation from FIFA after their investigation into the request presented by the FIGC under Article 18 of the Statute of the International Federation, which regulates a switch of federation."

The former Barcelona star has dual nationality as his grandfather had Italian citizenship.