Italy finally get to concentrate on World Cup
It’s been a funny build-up to the World Cup for holders Italy.
The words “South Africa” have barely been mentioned in the last week despite the Azzurri being huddled up in an Alpine ski resort trying to get used to altitude conditions.
Hardly anyone has talked about the World Cup with the focus instead being on a new coach after the tournament and which clubs players will be at next season.
Cesare Prandelli will replace national coach Marcello Lippi in July, even if Lippi never announced he was leaving and no one told Prandelli’s club Fiorentina that a deal had been done.
Fabio Cannavaro signed forAl Ahli of Dubai while Alberto Gilardino and Gianluigi Buffon talked mainly about their club futures.
Daniele De Rossi got into a bizarre spat with the Italian police after criticising their behaviour at club matches.
Stranger still, Marco Borriello discussed the Naples mafia before being cut from the squad.
If anything, it has made a refreshing change from the endless deluge of news conferences where every player says he is confident the team can “go all the way”.
Very few Italy fans believe their ageing team can reproduce their 2006 triumph and the fact the players aren’t raising their hopes means there is a distinct realism rather than wave of baseless optimism sweeping the nation.
But Italy weren’t favourites in 2006, either, were they?