Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi could find himself playing at the heart of defence in his side’s World Cup qualifier against Czech Republic.
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De Rossi was placed in a three-man back line together with Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci by Cesare Prandelli in Sunday’s training session as the Azzurri coach examines his options for a game which could earn Italy their ticket for next summer’s finals in Brazil.
With Andrea Barzagli withdrawing from Prandelli’s initial squad, only Angelo Ogbonna is available as a third central defensive option, but it appears the Italy coach is going to plump for De Rossi, a decision that would be welcomed by full-back Christian Maggio.
“It’s not a surprise, he’s done well there,” Maggio told Sky television. “Certainly he wasn’t born a central defender, but he has the technical qualities which enable him to play there while he can also help us in terms of our build-up play.”
His versatility would also provide extra competition for places, something regarded positively by Bonucci, who could potentially lose his place in future should De Rossi shine at the back.
“Competition is only a stimulus to do well and to improve,” he said. “It’s only normal that in the end only 11 can take to the field and the others go on the bench, but every one of us has always got to be ready to play.”
Whoever does play in the Italy defence can do so safe in the knowledge that they have the experience of Gianluigi Buffon behind them.
The 35-year-old will equal Fabio Cannavaro as Italy’s most-capped player with an appearance on Tuesday night, and he has no intention of stopping at 136 caps.
“I may be getting on, but it’s always a great satisfaction and I would never turn the national team down,” Buffon told Sky. “I still want to win something else. If I were told that Italy would win the World Cup without me being captain, that would be fine by me also.
“Being the person who lifts the cup doesn’t matter, in fact it often embarrasses me to do so.”