Monday, 15 June 2009

[Euro U21] Casiraghi juggles options

Italy coach Pierluigi Casiraghi may have cited Hamlet but his question was not so much "To be or not to be?" as "4-2-2 or 4-3-3?" ahead of his side's opening match against Serbia.

Pierluigi CasiraghiCasiraghi's squad spent a week in the Danish town of Elsinore, setting for the Shakespeare play, before arriving in Sweden and, according to the coach, they have considered a variety of options ahead of their first Group A fixture against a "dangerous" Serbia team.

The dilemma for Casiraghi is whether to keep his front three of Robert Acquafresca, Mario Balotelli and Sebastian Giovinco or adopt a more secure 4-4-2 against opponents who defeated the Azzurrini 1-0 in their opening game at the 2007 tournament en route to reaching the final.

"It's the first game and Serbia are a very high-level team, but you also have to bear in mind that this group of players have played a certain type of football for the last three years," Casiraghi said.

"The important thing about playing with three forwards is it gives you a big advantage and a lot of possibilities when you have the ball and are attacking, especially with three players like Giovinco, Balotelli and Acquafresca.

"On the other side we don't want to get exposed at the back."

Casiraghi, a member of the Italy side beaten in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship semi-finals by Yugoslavia in 1990, was wary of the possible threat posed by Serbia's "trequartisti" or attacking midfielders.

His Serbia counterpart, Slobodan Krcmarevic, will want these players to deliver given the absence of striker Filip Djordjevic, scorer of five qualifying goals, who flew back to Belgrade on Sunday with a foot fracture.

Krcmarevic said: "We have a little problem with our attackers but we have other very good players like [Zoran] Tosic, who is playing for Manchester United, [Miralem] Sulejmani from Ajax, Rade Veljovic from Cluj, so we have many solutions."

Krcmarevic spoke of the "many quality individuals" Italy have, yet showed no sense of inferiority.

"I think it is 50-50," said the coach, who anticipated the presence of a "12th man" inside Helsingborg's Olympia tomorrow with a large turnout expected from the sizeable Serbian community in this corner of Sweden.

Whatever the outcome, Krcmarevic hopes this will not be the only time his 'Eaglets' face Italy in the tournament.

"My hope is to play against Italy tomorrow and to meet them again in the final," said Serbia's trainer, who will likely not risk defender Ivan Obradovic, still recovering from an ankle problem.

"Maybe it is not unrealistic even if there are so many great teams and players in this tournament," he added.

As for Casiraghi, his wish is to avoid a repeat of that 2007 reverse in Nijmegen – a setback that ultimately cost the Azzurrini a semi-final place.

"These are two completely different teams from two years ago," he said. "The fact the first game of the last championship was against Serbia in a certain way increases the pressure and the tension, but I think that could be something positive."

[UEFA Euro U21 Championships 2009]

Source: UEFA

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