MILAN - Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has
been able to field his favoured front line only once during his
tenure and Wednesday's friendly with Romania will see yet
another new attack.
The trio of Amauri, Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli
linked up in Prandelli's first game, the August friendly loss to
Ivory Coast, but ever since at least one of them has been
This time Prandelli has left out Cassano, impressive on his
return to the Azzurri during their Euro 2012 qualifiers, after
the forward was suspended by club Sampdoria for swearing at the
president and refusing to attend an awards dinner.
"I will not abandon Cassano but he must resolve his problems
with Samp," Prandelli told reporters amid speculation that the
striker might even quit the game if Samp forced him out after an
Brazil-born Juventus striker Amauri has struggled for full
fitness since the Ivory Coast game so has been overlooked but
Manchester City's Balotelli is back despite serving a ban after
a red card for kicking out against West Bromwich Albion.
"I was there when he was sent off, it wasn't violent. It was
a normal thing, a committed player in a committed match," added
Prandelli, who has called up four new players including
Argentina-born midfielder Cristian Ledesma.
A new front line of Balotelli, Alberto Gilardino and
Giuseppe Rossi looks the most likely for the game, bizarrely
being played in Klagenfurt in Austria for commercial reasons.
Romania, struggling in fifth in Euro 2012 Group D in
contrast to Italy who top Group C, also have problems upfront
with Adrian Mutu missing having just returned from a drugs ban.
The striker, who plays his club football in Italy with
Fiorentina, has a groin problem.
Romania's next qualifier is the March 26 game in Bosnia,
after they lost their last game 2-0 in France.
encounter was the abandoned qualifier with Serbia which resulted
in a 3-0 walkover win for the Azzurri because of crowd violence.
Their next qualifier is in Slovenia on March 25.
Romania: Costel Pantilimon; Cristian Sapunaru, Gabriel
Tamas, Cristian Chivu, Razvan Rat; George Florescu, Bogdan
Stancu, Ciprian Deac, Adrian Ropotan, Cristian Tanase; Ciprian
Italy: Emiliano Viviano; Mattia Cassani, Leonardo Bonucci,
Andrea Ranocchia, Domenico Criscito; Daniele De Rossi, Andrea
Pirlo, Alberto Aquilani; Giuseppe Rossi, Alberto Gilardino,
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