Monday, February 13, 2006

Italians trying to make it to Germany

Some veterans of the Italian national team are trying to make their case for taking to the pitch during the World Cup.

Juventus captain Alessandro Del Piero and AC Milan forward Filippo Inzaghi both had great outings over the weekend. Del Piero hit a great free kick for Juventus 1-2 win while Inzaghi scored a hat trick in his side's 4-1 victory over Gilardino.

Attention so far has been on the newer stars Alberto Gilardino and Luca Toni, but Del Piero and Inzaghi will not just step aside and let them take the position.

"I hope I keep up this level of form until the World Cup," said Del Piero, who has scored winning goals in three recent Serie A games.

"I hope to be called up for the World Cup," echoed Inzaghi. "It does not cost anything to dream." The players are having to make their bids for World Cup slots with a handicap - neither has a regular place with their respective clubs, so it is doubly difficult for them to shine.

So far it looks like Italy will have Francesco Totti and Gilardino in the striker role. Toni is a safe bet since he is Serie A's top-scorer. That leaves Inzaghi and Del Piero competing with fellow veteran Christian Vieri and youngster Antonio Cassano for the final two forward spots.

Anyway you cut it, Italy is going to have some strong shooters on the pitch when they meet America. Eddie Pope, Oguchi Onyewu and the rest of the US defense will have their hands full no matter who Italy fields, but I think Toni is the most dangerous of the bunch. He is constantly changing his attacking style during a match, has wonderful ball control, yet is still somewhat of an unknown (sort of like Taylor Twellman, but with a bit more experience).

He also seems like a player that doesn't get easily frustrated, unlike a few of the other Italians named. I can see him causing some serious confusion for the red, white and blue.


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