Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 8th 2013 Contents A59
Tuesday, October 8, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
FLORENCE---Italy coach Cesare Pran-
delli defended his code of ethics yester-
day after being criticised for calling up
Mario Balotelli following the tempera-
mental striker s latest outburst.
On Sunday, Balotelli finished serving
a three-match ban with AC Milan for
insulting and intimidating the referee in
"If there was (one more match on the
ban) Balotelli would not be here. Period.
There s nothing to discuss," Prandelli said.
"I ve never called up a player that is
While Italy has already qualified for
next year s World Cup, the Azzurri con-
vened for training yesterday ahead of their
final two matches against Denmark and
"Of course I m angry. But everyone
who saw what happened and wants well
for Mario should be angry," Prandelli said.
"We can t lose our motivation to help
this kid become stronger and better bal-
anced---because he s one of the best play-
ers we have.
"I decided to call him up because that s
our way to handle these things, to look
each other in the eye in the changing
room, discuss it and agree it will never
happen again," the coach added. "We ve
got six or seven months to show that
we re ready and mature enough to handle
the pressure of a World Cup."
Prandelli left Balotelli off the squad for
a friendly against the United States last
year when he was suspended for four
matches for his stomp on Tottenham s
Scott Parker while the forward was with
The alarming rate of Balotelli s red cards
has led some critics to suggest it isn t
worth the risk having him on Italy s squad.
"I m tired of these crusades against
Balotelli," Prandelli said. "When everyone
is against somebody I like to defend that
person... Despite all the problems, here
we are, we re still together and we can
still do a lot together."
Prandelli also noted the impressive form
of 37-year-old Roma captain Francesco
"If the World Cup were in 20 days, I
wouldn t have any doubt. Totti would
come," Prandelli said.
Totti retired from the national team
after helping Italy win the 2006 World
Cup but there has been ongoing specu-
lation that he could return if he maintains
Totti s play has helped Roma open the
season with seven straight victories and
he scored twice when Roma won 3-0 at
Inter Milan on Saturday.
Antonio Cassano, another forward who
used to be a fixture in Italy s attack, has
also raised his form lately.
Cassano scored one goal and set up
two others when Parma beat Sassuolo 3-
1 Sunday. He hasn t featured for Italy
since he helped the squad reach the final
of last year s European Championship.
"Antonio played one of his best matches
in recent years yesterday, so he s clearly
very motivated," Prandelli said. "A month
before the World Cup we ll evaluate every-
one s physical condition, and without
forgetting the group of players that helped
us qualify, I ll make a definitive decision."
One forward who was called up after
a long absence was Giuseppe Rossi, the
United States-born striker who was both-
ered by injuries for the last two years.
However, Rossi has some aches and
pains and Prandelli said he would need
to evaluate his condition before deciding
if he can play.
Also yesterday, midfielder Daniele De
Rossi was immediately sent home with
a left thigh injury. (AP)
Prandelli defends Balotelli
call up despite ban
Italy's Mario Balotelli waits for the start of a training
session at the Coverciano training grounds, near Florence,
Italy, yesterday. Italy is has a Would Cup qualifier against
Denmark, in Copenhagen Friday. AP PHOTO
CLAIREFONTAINE---France coach Didier
Deschamps knows the team s likeliest
route to the World Cup goes via the play-
off, and that means a win in Friday s
friendly against Australia can help its
chances of getting to Brazil.
With Spain in a commanding position,
France has almost no chance of topping
Group I, meaning the playoff for second-
place teams is beckoning next month.
France s FIFA ranking has slipped to a
lowly 25th, so it needs to win Friday s
friendly against Australia and its last qual-
ifier against Finland four days later to
have a stronger chance of being among
the seeded teams when the draw is made.
Spain is level on points with second-
place France but has home games against
Belarus and Georgia.
"Yes, there is something at stake.
They re not the two most exciting games,
but they re internationals. I don t want
people easing up and lacking concentra-
tion because It s only Australia, it s Fin-
land, " Deschamps said Monday. "Both
are important, because we can earn some
points, and given what awaits us in
November that can help us be among the
France s form has been patchy through-
out qualifying, with the highlight being
an excellent second-half performance in
the 1-1 draw away to Spain, and the lows
being a tepid 0-0 draw away to Georgia
and a terrible first-half performance
against Belarus last month. France trailed
1-0 at halftime and 2-1 before rallying
with late goals to win 4-2 and put some
gloss on an otherwise poor showing.
"Unfortunately we alternate the good
and the bad," Deschamps said. "There
was a fear of failure. Belarus played really
well in the first half---I had never seen
them play that well---but we responded
well in the second half."
A recurring problem for Deschamps
has been the lack of goals from forwards,
and with one qualifier remaining it is still
unclear who is France s first choice up
Karim Benzema has not scored in 15
internationals and was dropped against
Belarus, with Olivier Giroud taking his
place but not scoring, either. It is unlikely
that they will play together, as that has
not worked on the occasions Deschamps
has paired them alongside each other.
"The hierarchy can evolve," Deschamps
said. "One of them will start on Friday.
Although both of them can play we re
probably going to go for one center for-
ward. They have different profiles, with
In a recent interview with France Foot-
ball magazine, Giroud put his foot down
when he said he now deserves a chance
to be France s recognised No 1 in attack.
"All the players should have that ambi-
tion. It s not a problem, whether it s Oliver
or another player," said Deschamps, who
suggested Benzema s confidence is low.
"He s lacking efficiency," Deschamps
said. "It could be linked (to confidence),
as these things often go hand in hand."
Facing Australia, which lost 6-0 against
Brazil last month, could be the perfect
chance for Benzema to start scoring again,
and his Real Madrid teammate Raphael
Varane has backed him to silence the
"Of course he s aware of the criticism
and he is thinking about things," Varane
said. "I think he s trying to take a step
back from it all. He s aware of the expec-
tation level there is and he can handle it
when things go well and when they don t."
Deschamps already has playoffs in mind
BERLIN---Borussia Dortmund s for-
ward Marco Reus yesterday became
the third player to drop out of Ger-
many s squad for the upcoming World
Cup qualifiers against Ireland and Swe-
Reus has a left-ankle injury that is
expected to keep him sidelined for two
weeks, the German Football Federation
Earlier, twin brothers Lars and Sven
Bender also dropped out because of
injuries and Germany coach Joachim
Loew called up Hamburger SV defender
Sven Bender, who also plays for Dort-
mund, withdrew after sustaining a mus-
cle strain in his groin and lower back
area during his side s 2-0 loss to Borussia
Moenchengladbach in the Bundesliga
Dortmund team doctor Markus Braun
examined the player yesterday and sug-
gested Bender will be sidelined for 10
days, the club said on its website.
Lars Bender, who plays for Bayer Lev-
erkusen, suffered a muscle tear in his
right thigh during his side s 1-1 draw
with Bayern Munich on Saturday.
The 30-year-old Westermann has
played 26 games for Germany. His last
appearance was in a friendly against the
United States on June 2. (AP)
Reus out of Germany's WC qualifiers; Westermann in
PRAGUE---Captain Tomas Rosicky will miss the Czech
Republic s final two World Cup qualifiers at the request
of his Arsenal due to health concerns.
Rosicky picked up a calf injury in the 2-1 loss at Italy
on September 10 but returned to Arsenal s starting
lineup for a 2-0 victory over Napoli in Champions
League last week. He played as substitute in Sunday s
1-1 draw at West Brom in the Premier League.
Czech Republic manager Vladimir Smicer says Rosicky
still doesn t feel fully fit and will have individual training
at Arsenal for the next 10 days.
The Czechs play away to Malta on Friday and Bulgaria
four days later but don t have a realistic chance to qualify.
Czechs to miss Rosicky in
final World Cup qualifying
AMSTERDAM---Midfielders Stijn Schaars and
Jonathan de Guzman and Paris Saint-Germain defend-
er Gregory van der Wiel pulled out of the Netherlands
squad yesterday for two World Cup qualifiers because
Coach Louis van Gaal called up Norwich midfielder
Leroy Fer and Augsburg defender Paul Verhaegh to
bolster his squad that plays Hungary on Friday in Ams-
terdam and faces Turkey in Istanbul on October 15.
The Netherlands, three times a World Cup runner-
up, has already qualified for the finals in Brazil next
Schaars pulled out of the team with a knee injury,
while De Guzman is still recovering from a groin injury
that also kept him out of Swansea s team that lost 2-
0 to Southampton on Sunday. Van der Wiel was declared
unfit because of knee problems. (AP)
Schaars, De Guzman
injured, out of Dutch squad
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