Cannavaro out but Italy can cope
Italy may be thinking the gods are against them after World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro was ruled out of Euro 2008 after being injured in their first training session in Austria. They needn’t worry too much.
The 2006 World Player of Year suffered ankle ligament damage after a robust tackle by fellow defender Giorgio Chiellini, who will now be in the running to take his place in the backline.
The dogged Chiellini is very much in the mould of his captain and would not let the Azzurri down. In fact, he would offer more pace than Cannavaro, who is 34 and has slowed down a lot since Germany two years ago.
The Real Madrid defender is also not as composed as he was and tends to make more errors. In contrast, fellow centre back Andrea Barzagli has hardly put a foot wrong after bursting on to the international scene during Italy’s qualifying campaign.
Marco Materazzi is also in the squad and although he has his faults, his height made him tower over Cannavaro when they played together. He remains a good option.
Defender Alessandro Gamberini is also jetting out to Austria as a replacement for Cannavaro following an excellent season at Fiorentina.
As for the captaincy, authoritative goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is likely to take the armband. He is highly respected by his team mates and can certainly blow away the myth that keepers do not make good skippers.
All is not lost for Italy.
Mark Meadows, with the Italy team in Baden near Vienna