Cannavaro tells Italy to grow up and concentrate

Fabio Cannavaro has called for greater focus from Italy, as the defending champions' squad on Tuesday night waited nervously to see whether the goalkeeper Gigi Buffon would be able to continue at the World Cup.

Buffon aggravated a sciatic nerve problem during the warm-up before the match against Paraguay on Tuesday and, although he played through the pain, he was forced to concede defeat at half-time and come off.

The team's physician, Enrico Castellacci, has described the back injury as "serious" and he added that "at the moment, no date can be set for his return".

Italy plays their second Group F game against New Zealand on Sunday and Buffon has said he is "optimistic" that he will be fit to play. "I have had the same problem before and after a couple of days, I've been all right," he said. "Our fans must relax because the team is there and that is the most important thing."

The loss of Buffon would be a blow but Cannavaro, the captain, feels the Azzurri needs to apply themselves collectively.

Although Paraguay offered little as an attacking threat, they were able to open the scoring, when Cannavaro and Daniele De Rossi allowed Antolín Alcaraz to steal in between them to head the opening goal. Such lapses of concentration, Cannavaro suggested, cannot continue. De Rossi scored the equaliser in the 1-1 draw.

"A team like Italy has to win these sort of matches," said Cannavaro. "We have to grow up as a team in the next game and concentrate. In the second half, we were more focused and played better."

Marcello Lippi, the manager, was unhappy at his team's failure to convert possession and territorial advantage into clear-cut chances and De Rossi's goal was not so much the result of Italy's invention as an error by the Paraguay goalkeeper, Justo Villar.

"That was my ninth goal for Italy but by far my most important, without counting my penalty in the final [in the shoot-out in 2006]," said De Rossi. "We played well but we were a bit naive, starting with me because it was my mistake that allowed them to score.

"The problem was we didn't have the killer touch. That is fundamental against teams who line up for a draw. But what we did show is that this Italian side always plays to win. I expect us to grow together as we did in 2006.

"This team is once more the side we know it can be and rest assured, when we come up against the likes of Brazil or Argentina or any of the other greats, we will not be the underdogs. To many people looking at Italy, the glass might be half empty but to us, it is half full."

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 8:26:39 PM |

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