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Euro 2012: Ferrari expects Italians to pass tough test

Matteo Ferrari

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MONTREAL – With three former Italian internationals (Marco Di Vaio, Matteo Ferrari and Bernardo Corradi) and another two players familiar with calcio (former Inter Milan center back Nelson Rivas and former Padova midfielder Felipe) among their squad, the Montreal Impact’s heart should beat to the rhythm of Italy's performance at Euro 2012.

Following your team’s exploits from afar is in no way ideal, but Ferrari had the chance to grasp the mood of the Italian public for a few days when he traveled back to the land he represented 11 times for personal reasons. With yet another match-fixing scandal rearing its ugly head, Ferrari sensed a bit of tension in the air.

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“The same things are happening in Italy – 15 players make trouble and people think the system is wrong,” Ferrari told MLSsoccer.com. “I can say that the vast majority of players and people in Italy do things the right way. With the rumors, people talk about that for a few weeks, and it’s a wrong moment because Euro 2012 is starting and the national team needs to focus on what they have to do on the field.”

As far as on the field matters go, Ferrari is confident that Cesare Prandelli, who coached him at Parma, has molded a good team which can compete against everybody. Defender Andrea Barzagli has been ruled out for at least two games, however, and while Ferrari does believe Prandelli has options to replace him, he also knows this is about as important an absence as any.

“They lost important players, but not the key of the team,” Ferrari said. “Barzagli was an important player in the starting XI, it’s really bad that he can’t play because of his injury. Prandelli will need to find different solutions, but there are a lot of players who can play there for sure.”

The Impact defender trusts in the squad Prandelli has assembled, sees quality from defense to attack in it and believes Italy will play good football. The problem Ferrari has identified is the lack of international experience in the side, with the notable exception of Daniele De Rossi, Andrea Pirlo and Gianluigi Buffon.

Nevertheless, Ferrari reckons Italy will manage opponents Spain, Republic of Ireland and Croatia and get out of Group C. And gli Azzurri have proven in the past that once they get to the knockout stage, they can face adversity tests with flying colors.

“They have to pass the group,” Ferrari insisted. “After that, anything can happen. … The same happened in 2006. They started talking about [match-fixing], and Italy won the World Cup."