Sunday, 14 June 2009

[Euro U21] Spirit gives Giovinco strength

Italy forward Sebastian Giovinco believes his side's main strength at the 2009 UEFA European Under-21 Championship will be the fact "there is not one single leader but many potential leaders" within the Azzurrini team.

Sebastian GiovincoThe Juventus player may be only 1.64m tall, but he is one of the most influential in Pierluigi Casiraghi's squad and trusts that a number of his team-mates share his leadership qualities.

"This group is fantastic – we are all very united, both the players who have been here for a long time and those who joined the group later," he said.

"There is not one single leader but many potential leaders with talent and experience. This can be a huge advantage in the long run."

The immediate challenge comes from Serbia, who defeated Italy in their opening game at the 2007 championship, and will provide formidable opposition when they meet again in Group A in Helsingborg on Tuesday.

"It's very important to start well in tournaments like this," Giovinco said. "In our last friendly [a 4-0 win against Denmark last Tuesday] we could see there was still room for improvement in terms of our understanding up front, so we have worked hard on that and I think we've improved.

"Serbia's attackers are very dangerous but we can't hide our ambition to go all the way in this tournament."

Giovinco is expected to begin on the left side of a three-pronged forward line also including Mario Balotelli and Robert Acquafresca. Against Denmark, however, he often dropped into a deeper, more central position just behind the other two strikers.

"That is my favourite role, the one where I can best use my skills," said the No.10, who returned to Juventus this season having spent the previous campaign on loan at Empoli.

"We tried that system against Denmark and could repeat it during the tournament."

Italy are without Giuseppe Rossi who has been called up to the senior squad for the FIFA Confederations Cup, yet Giovinco is optimistic that with Balotelli in the lineup the Azzurrini "can cope well with Rossi's absence".

Balotelli made an instant impact with the U21s after being awarded Italian citizenship last August, scoring against Greece in the qualifying group before adding two more in their play-off against Israel.

"He has fit well into the team," Giovinco said. "Everybody knows he is a particular character, but I'm sure even that will improve with time."

The Inter attacker scored a superb free-kick against Denmark, and Giovinco, usually the side's main dead-ball specialist, is happy to share responsibility should Balotelli continue to produce such spectacular results.

"We will not argue over taking free-kicks," Giovinco said. "We will decide every time we get one.

"It's good to have more than one free-kick specialist. It makes things more difficult and unpredictable for goalkeepers. Set-pieces are very important in modern football."

The Azzurrini have been continuing their preparations at the team base in Helsingborg since arriving from Denmark on Saturday.

The tournament kicks off on Monday with England playing Finland and Spain going head-to-head with Germany in Group B. Italy will play Serbia at the Olympia Stadium on Tuesday night, after hosts Sweden open against Belarus.

[UEFA Euro U21 Championships 2009]

Source: UEFA

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