Italy coach Marcello Lippi is coming under pressure to inject some youth into his line-up against Egypt in the FIFA Confederations Cup on Thursday.
Lippi started nine veterans from Italy's 2006 World Cup victory in a 3-1 win over the United States on Monday, but the team didn't score until substitutes Giuseppe Rossi and Riccardo Montolivo came on after nearly an hour - despite a one man advantage.
"You don't think I'm aware of what they're worth?" Lippi snapped back when asked after the USA game if he had learned to put more trust in his younger players.
"You don't think I know who Giuseppe Rossi is? I called him up a year ago from the Under-21 team. He's the only player that has creativeness and fantasy in attack, and I put him on at the right time. But that doesn't mean that now he's going to play all the time."
Lippi's starting attack of Vincenzo Iaquinta, Alberto Gilardino and Mauro Camoranesi looked stagnant until Rossi replaced Camoranesi on the right wing and the American-born striker scored twice.
Gilardino acknowledged afterward that the Azzurri played better once Rossi came on.
"It's nice to hear that. I'm going to continue trying to insert myself into the group over these next two weeks," Rossi said, refusing to create any controversy, despite his two goals.
"That doesn't matter at all. That's the coach's decision."
After missing most of the season with a knee injury, Gennaro Gattuso still only appears capable of playing an hour. Against the Americans, the 24-year-old Montolivo was Gattuso's second-half replacement.
Montolivo plays in central midfield like Gattuso, although he is more attack-minded than the gritty AC Milan stalwart.
"I think Lippi does well by sticking with the champions," Montolivo said. "I'm just happy to be part of this group."
Captain Fabio Cannavaro is expected to return in central defense after missing the opener due to a right calf injury.
The player who raised the World Cup trophy in Berlin three years ago needs only three more caps to break Paolo Maldini's Italian record of 126 appearances.
"I usually don't care about records, but I have to admit I'm starting to think about this one," Cannavaro said.
Otherwise, Lippi's line-up could remain the same, unless the silver-haired coach decides to add the likes of Rossi, Montolivo or 18-year-old defender Davide Santon.
Italy are level at the top of Group B with Brazil, who struggled to beat Egypt 4-3, ahead of the second group match in Johannesburg.
[FIFA Confederations Cup 2009]
Source: Associated Press