Monday, 22 June 2009

[Euro U21] Cannavaro shows Criscito the way

Domenico Criscito was seven when his idol Fabio Cannavaro first helped Italy win the UEFA European Under-21 Championship in 1994 and nine when the centre-back repeated the feat two years later.

Pierluigi Casiraghi & Domenico CriscitoHaving missed out on the chance to emulate Cannavaro in 2007 as a member of the Azzurrini team eliminated in the group stage, the left-back is determined to make his mark on the tournament this time round.

"It would be great to follow in Cannavaro's footsteps and win the tournament here in Sweden," said the defender.

Born in Naples like the Italy captain, Criscito has been on Juventus's books for the past five seasons, but it is unlikely he will be linking up with Cannavaro in Turin next term.

He has spent the last 18 months on loan at Genoa and the club have the option to buy him this summer.

"I'm only focused on winning the European Championship," he said. "We will see where I will play next season."

After watching his ruthless performances against Serbia and Sweden, both clubs will probably be doing everything they can to secure his services.

Italy are top of Group A with four points, but are yet to secure a place in the semi-finals ahead of their game against Belarus on Tuesday night.

A draw would be enough for the Azzurrini, who could also progress if they lose by less than a three-goal margin and Sweden and Serbia draw the section's other match.

"We will try to attack as we always do," Criscito said. "I think Belarus will try to close down the space as they did so well against Serbia.

"Both sides need a victory so I think we will see an entertaining game. I don't think at this level there are any easy teams to face. The eight teams here are more or less on the same level."

The 22-year-old is playing at left-back in a defensive line that has only conceded one late goal so far.

"We played very well in defence in the first two games of the tournament," he said. "The whole team played well.

"We want to win to finish first in the group, not really because we have any kind of preference about who we would meet in the semi-finals – there is not much difference if you play England or Germany – but because we are here to win every game play."

Criscito believes more Italian fans will turn their attention to the U21s now the senior team have been knocked out of the FIFA Confederations Cup, ensuring an added incentive for Casiraghi's side.

"I'm sorry Italy were eliminated but we are here for a different tournament and we just have to focus on that," he said.

"Probably we will have more eyes on us now the senior team are no longer playing but this just gives us extra motivation to do well."

[UEFA Euro U21 Championships 2009]

Source: UEFA

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