The whirlwind of controversy that is Antonio Cassano is the name on most Italian football fans lips tonight. Roberto Donadoni suprised virtually everyone in Italian football by recalling the striker to his 24 man squad. Cassano has been one of Italy’s most talked about players in recent years, unfortunately more for his petulance and sulking than the explosive skill that saw him burst into the national spotlight at Bari whilst still only 17. With a reputation born more in mood swings than dazzling play, it is somewhat of an understatement to say that no-one saw this second opportunity arising for him at international level. There is no doubting his abilities as a footballer, his skill and clever play and since Christmas at Sampdoria he has recaptured the form that saw Giovanni Trappatoni describe him as “the future of Italian football”. The petualance that has plagued his time at Real Madrid and Roma is still there, notably when being sent off in the league game against Torino for throwing his shirt at the referee, an act that earned him a 5 match ban. With a player like Cassano you never know which one will turn up, but Donadoni will be hoping the footballing wizard will be the one playing for the Azzurri.
Donadoni also included legendary Juventus stiker Alessandro Del Piero, after hitting his best season tally of 21 goals in 10 years. Del Piero’s fitness and durability may be open to question but his ability and talismanic influence on the Azzurri can never be underestimated. A truely wonderful player, Del Piero knows this is probably going to be his last major tournament at 33, but Del Piero has continued to suprise us since being written off after a serious knee injury back in 1999. Of course, any tournament that allows us to view the beautiful Mrs Del Piero is always welcome and strangely, no doubt one of his best friends, Noel Gallagher of Oasis, will be there to cheer him on as he was at the World Cup final in 2006.
Italy Provisional squad (one to be removed)
Goalkeepers: Marco Amelia (AS Livorno Calcio), Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Morgan De Sanctis (Sevilla FC).
Defenders: Andrea Barzagli (US Città di Palermo), Fabio Cannavaro (Real Madrid CF), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Fabio Grosso (Olympique Lyonnais), Marco Materazzi (FC Internazionale Milano), Christian Panucci (AS Roma), Gianluca Zambrotta (FC Barcelona).
Midfielders: Massimo Ambrosini (AC Milan), Alberto Aquilani (AS Roma), Mauro Camoranesi (Juventus), Daniele De Rossi (AS Roma), Gennaro Gattuso (AC Milan), Riccardo Montolivo (ACF Fiorentina), Simone Perrotta (AS Roma), Andrea Pirlo (AC Milan).
Forwards: Marco Borriello (Genoa CFC), Antonio Cassano (UC Sampdoria), Alessandro Del Piero (Juventus), Antonio Di Natale (Udinese Calcio), Fabio Quagliarella (Udinese Calcio), Luca Toni (FC Bayern München).