Prandelli tinkering with his troubled defense
Italy has major defensive worries entering its European Championship opener against defending champion Spain on Sunday, prompting coach Cesare Prandelli to consider overhauling his entire lineup.
With fullback Domenico Crisicito cut from the squad after being placed under investigation for match-fixing and center back Andrea Barzagli likely unavailable with a calf injury, Prandelli has indicated he may switch from a four-man to a three-man defense.
Making matters more curious is that Prandelli says he may use Daniele De Rossi, normally a midfielder, at the center of a three-man defense.
In their only pre-tournament friendly, Italy lost 3-0 to Russia on Friday after several uncharacteristic defensive mistakes.
''We're aware there are troubles. It would be crazy not to try new solutions,'' Prandelli said Tuesday upon Italy's arrival in Poland. ''A lot of (Italian clubs) have tried the (three-man) formation over the past few months, including De Rossi with Roma. It wouldn't change much.''
Another center back, Leonardo Bonucci, is also reportedly under investigation for match-fixing. While he's still with the squad, he struggled against Russia and does not appear completely focused.
The last option at center back appears to be Angelo Ogbonna, who has been playing with Torino in Serie B.
''If we're talking about `ifs,' it will be Daniele,'' Prandelli said of who would anchor the three-man line.
Around De Rossi, Giorgio Chiellini would likely line up at left back, with Federico Balzaretti on the right.
Cagliari defender Davide Astori has been put on alert as a possible last-minute call up, in case Prandelli decides Barzagli shouldn't be on the squad. Teams have up to 24 hours before their openers to replace injured players.
Another possible replacement, Inter Milan's Andrea Ranocchi, has a muscle problem.
''All 23 players need to be ready at any time,'' Prandelli said. ''Unfortunately we saw what happened with Barzagli. You've got to be ready, and not just during the week but during the match, too.''