time over, now Trap faces tough choices
A rich vein of frontline options put Giovanni Trapattoni in
29 April 2004
Italy's 1-1 draw with Spain will be remembered for Roberto
Baggio's emotional farewell to international football.
Now, however, coach Giovanni Trapattoni has to put sentiment
aside as he focuses on selecting his squad for Euro 2004.
Trapattoni will have learnt little new from Wednesday's game
which was dominated for long stretches by an impressive
Spanish side. Baggio's low-key performance should at least
dilute the popular clamour for the 37-year-old to be taken to
The Italy coach has no shortage of attacking talent from which
to choose a squad to take on Sweden, Denmark and Bulgaria in
Christian Vieri, who headed the equaliser against Spain, is
certain to lead the line and the good news for Trapattoni is
that the Inter Milan forward, who has a dreadful rapport with
his club fans, is a different man when he pulls on an Italy
Roma's Francesco Totti, who missed the Spain game due to a
minor knock, will be the main provider for Vieri, roaming
behind the front line where he can provide the killer passes
that make him one of the best number 10s in the modern game.
Lazio's Bernardo Corradi is likely to make the squad as
back-up for Vieri - his power in the air and his willingness
to act as a target man make him the only alternative in case
of an injury to the Inter forward.
That leaves the question of who will partner Vieri. Throughout
qualification Juventus' Alessandro Del Piero and Milan's
Filippo Inzaghi have taken on that role but both have injury
worries and question marks over their form.
Inzaghi underwent an operation on his ankle on Wednesday which
will keep him out of action for at least a fortnight while Del
Piero is only just coming back from injury himself.
A fit Del Piero will certainly travel to Portugal but Inzaghi
faces a serious threat to his place in the squad.
Roma's Antonio Cassano has been in tremendous form this season
and has the advantage of a ready-built understanding with
Totti while Trapattoni has made good use of the Juventus
pairing of Marco Di Vaio and Fabrizio Miccoli.
Unlike Inzaghi, a pure goal poacher, Di Vaio can also operate
on the flanks while Miccoli is well capable of filling Totti's
The choices are more straightforward in midfield where
Chievo's Simone Perrotta is firmly established as one of the
two central players with his partner drawn from Milan's Andrea
Pirlo and Gennaro Gattuso, and Inter's Cristiano Zanetti.
In the more attacking role Juve's Argentine born Mauro
Camoranesi and Lazio's in-form and versatile Stefano Fiore
have probably booked their places.
Bologna winger Carlo Nervo and Milan battler Massimo Ambrosini
are first in line should Trapattoni need to alter his plans in
The back four is well-established with Christian Panucci and
Gianluca Zambrotta as full-backs, and Alessandro Nesta and
Fabio Cannavaro in the centre of defence. But there will be a
keen contest for the reserve roles.
Gianluigi Buffon will be first choice keeper backed up by
Inter's Francesco Toldo and probably Lazio's Angelo Peruzzi
whose substitute appearance on Wednesday ended his five-year
exile from the Italy set-up. -