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Party time over, now Trap faces tough choices
A rich vein of frontline options put Giovanni Trapattoni in serious dilemma.

Thursday, 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 Portugal.

The Italy coach has no shortage of attacking talent from which to choose a squad to take on Sweden, Denmark and Bulgaria in group C.

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 shirt.

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 deeper role.

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 midfield.

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.
- Simon Evans

 

 

 

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