Wednesday, 24 June 2009

[Euro U21] Casiraghi relieved at progression

Pierluigi Casiraghi admitted there were some nerves on the Italy bench before Robert Acquafresca sealed the Azzurrini's place in the semi-finals of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship.

Pierluigi CasiraghiItaly had to come from behind to beat Belarus 2-1 in Helsingborg last night, a result that means the five-time European champions finished top of Group A to set up a semi-final against Germany on Friday.

"It was a very difficult game and I admit we were getting a little bit nervous on the bench because we had so many chances but could not take them," said Casiraghi.

"It was an important result. We reached our first objective which was to get to the semi-finals.

"Now we will meet Germany. It will be a great game between two big teams with talented players. We played them in a friendly last winter [Germany won 1-0 in November] and we know they have a number of quality players.

"Both teams are excellent."

Italy have been based in Helsingborg for the duration of the tournament and will stay there to play their fourth consecutive game at the Olympia Stadium against Germany on Friday night.

Casiraghi will be forced to make changes to his line-up for the last four tie as Juventus full-back Paolo De Ceglie will play no further part in the tournament after sustaining an ankle injury.

The 22-year-old twisted his left ankle early on in the win against Belarus, and was replaced by Daniele Dessena. With no hope of recovering in time for Friday, nor a possible final three days later, he will now return to Italy.

The Azzurrini will also be without the suspended Claudio Marchisio - who picked up his second yellow card of the tournament - for the Germany game, but Inter striker Mario Balotelli is available as he returns from his own suspension.

The Germans qualified as runners-up from Group B with draws against Spain and England, either side of their sole victory over Finland.

Inter-owned Acquafresca, who was Italy's top scorer in qualifying, was again the goalscoring hero for Casiraghi's men with his second and third goals of the tournament.

"I am very happy for me and the team," he reacted. "It was important to win and we played a great match.

"We did not score as many as we deserved to and missed some chances which made it close. But we overcame a difficult moment with the suspension of Balotelli and the injury to De Ceglie."

"I am very proud of my team. It is of course great that I have scored three goals, but I'm always hungry for more. It is not important who scores the goals – our aim is to win the European Championship," he concluded.

[UEFA Euro U21 Championships 2009]

Source: UEFA

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