Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lippi Eyes World Cup Encore "We know how to win"

And speaking about his future, the national team manager stressed: "Abete already knows what I'll be doing after South Africa." Ancelotti a candidate: the president of the Football Federation is pinning his hopes on the Chelsea manager now that that Prandelli is no longer in the frame. On the battle for the scudetto he commented: "This is what's great about football. Credit to Roma and Milan who have done an excellent job." A training camp for the Azzurri from 3-5 May

ROME, 29 March 2010 - "Italy don't go to the World Cup just to put on a good show. We go to win. We should not forget that we are the reigning champions: we should remember that not in a boastful way, but because we know how to win. We know what it takes to win." The national team manager Marcello Lippi is impatient, with just over two months to go before the World Cup begins in South Africa: "I can't wait to go." The concept of "outgoing champion" is not one our national coach likes much: "We've had two years of qualifying without any real highlights or lowlights, with some good matches and some not so good. But then when we're together for 30-40 days Italy always manages to do well, with players who are technically skilled and mentally strong, regardless of what has happened in the club sides," said the manager, interviewed on the "Politics in football" programme on GR Parlamento radio.

PREDICTIONS — Michel Platini, the UEFA president, sees three teams as the favourites: Spain, Brazil and England. "That's his assessment. All over the world people are backing Brazil. It was the same before the 2006 World Cup, but in Germany they went home before the quarter-finals. Spain are very strong, they won the European championship, they're in great form and they have an excellent group of players. But they have never won the World Cup. England have 10-12 very talented players and an excellent manager. But we don't see ourselves as inferior to anyone, and we're not going just to make up the numbers."

Future — Lippi - who has set aside 3-5 May for a training camp for the Azzurri, probably in Rome, at the Borghesiana - was a little more forthcoming than he had previously been when asked about the national team manager's job: "The president of the Federation already knows what I'll be doing after the World Cup. We have a lot of regard and respect for each other." Translated into terms that Italian fans can understand, that means that Lippi will end his time as coach in South Africa: his dream is to do it with the cup raised once again, as it was in Berlin. The head of the Italian Football Federation, Giancarlo Abete, reiterated that the future of the national manager's position will be determined in May, before the team leaves for Africa. At this stage, with the odds lengthening on Cesare Prandelli (he's being linked with Juventus and in any case seems set on staying with a club), Abete is looking at the options. He likes Ranieri, but getting him away from Roma at this point is impossible. And then there is the dream candidate: Carlo Ancelotti. He has done fairly well at Chelsea, but his position is far from secure. Should he be sacked he might be interested in coaching the Azzurri, a job he has never denied he would like one day.

SCUDETTO AND EUROPE — The national manager then spoke about the race for the scudetto: "Uncertainty, that's the beauty of football. We haven't had a title race this close since 2001-2002. Then it was Roma and Inter three years ago. In our competition you only have to ease off ever so slightly and someone will be snapping at your heels due to their own excellent work, and I'm talking about Roma and Milan here. These two teams are right there, one a point behind, and the other three points behind. It's great that the outcome is in doubt right to the end. The fans of these teams must be delighted - especially Inter's fans, as their team is in the running for the Coppa Italia and the Champions League title as well." And on the European competition: "I hope there's an Italian team in the final, and the only Italian team left is Inter. They will have to beat CSKA Moscow, then Barcelona or Arsenal. Let's hope Inter are in the final: if not, it will be Barcelona and Manchester United." Milan were knocked out of the Champions League:"Recently their problem has been having so many players out through injury." Finally, an observation: "If we slipped in the European rankings we would be behind Germany, and have one less team in the Champions League. But that's not the way to judge the quality of a country's football: such a judgement needs to be made overall, and the assessment should include, in particular, the national team."

Maurizio Nicita - Source Gazzetta.it

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Totti Steps Into The Ring "I'm ready to take on Inter"

The Roma captain has put himself at coach Ranieri's disposal, and could be the team's extra gear in the race for the Scudetto. The coach used the metaphor: "Francesco is like a stem cell for us"

ROME, 25 March 2010 - The dream of being the only Roma player to win the league twice is now becoming a bit more of a real possibility now. He might not have said it, but reading between the lines: Francesco Totti wants a part of the action on Saturday against Inter. The Giallorosso captain, who fronted a conference by the Gemelli Hospital at Rome's Cattolica University along with Claudio Ranieri and club president Rosella Sensi, was hiding nothing. "I'm available if the coach needs me." This was followed by a glance at Ranieri and a knowing smile, which said it all.

Stem Cell — Staying on the subject of medicine, Ranieri used the metaphor: "Totti is like a stem cell for us". This was a clear sign that if the team wants to keep charging ahead, the captain's help will be essential. The fans love him, they've been united in calling for his return for the super clash against Inter. "Saturday's is an important game, the whole of Rome will be watching us. Well, almost the whole of Rome (ed. not Lazio fans)."

From the heart — Totti has been making good progress over the past few days, but whether he'll actually play at the Olimpico remains to be seen. There's no doubt though about his desire to be in the front line as his team take's on Mourinho: "My decision to stay with Roma for life came from the heart. If I had wanted to change teams, I could have easily done it: before I quit, I want to win something big in this shirt". And soon. There's also no question that he's serious, going by his training program: this afternoon Totti will be doing a personal session then some polishing with the team tomorrow. On Saturday we'll see if he'll also be part of the biggest game of the year.

Article by Marco Calabresi -