Italy will stand firm with Balotelli: Prandelli

Updated: 31 May 2012 22:04 IST

If Italy striker Mario Balotell is the victim of jeers or racist chanting, the whole national team set-up will stand by him, coach Cesare Prandelli said on Thursday.

Italy will stand firm with Balotelli: Prandelli
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Rome:

If Italy striker Mario Balotell is the victim of jeers or racist chanting, the whole national team set-up will stand by him, coach Cesare Prandelli said on Thursday.

Balotelli, who is of Ghanaian origin, has previously said that he will walk off the pitch if he is jeered due to the colour of his skin and Prandelli says the Italy squad as a whole would not sit idly by if he came under attack.

"If there are racist boos directed at Balotelli, we would all leave the bench and walk onto the pitch, we would do something for Mario," said Prandelli.

Racism in Ukraine, in particular, has become a hot topic since a BBC programme into terrace violence filmed fans in the country apparently giving Nazi salutes and singing racist and anti-semitic chants.

But before Italy can start to worry about the reception they will receive in Ukraine, there is the small matter of a friendly against Russia in Zurich on Friday night.

It will be Italy's only pre-Euro warm-up match and their first game since an embarrassing 1-0 home defeat by the United States at the end of February.

They had been due to face Luxembourg in a friendly in Parma on Tuesday but the game was cancelled due to an earthquake in the surrounding region.

Despite the game being scratched from Italy's schedule, Prandelli insists he is not concerned by the lack of preparation.

"I'm not worried, even though it's our first test in a while," he said.

"The lads are working hard and they want to play. They've shown maximum willingness, so I'm satisfied."

However, he admitted the cancelled game has put paid to his plans to experiment with tactics.

Prandelli usually uses a 4-4-2 formation with a diamond in midfield but he said he wanted to try out a 4-3-3 system.

"The two games would have been useful to try out the full range of tactical solutions," added Prandelli.

"I would have liked to have seen the three up front but maybe we'll change things tomorrow (Friday) in the second half.

"The first part we'll play with four in midfield and then we'll go to three up top with the central one dropping deep."

Prandelli is a little concerned about the size of his forwards.

Although Balotelli is tall and well-built, the rest of his options - Antonio Cassano, Sebastian Giovinco, Antonio Di Natale and Fabio Borini - are all fairly small.

"We could have problems given that up front we're the smallest and lightest team in Europe," he said.

"We'll have to be good at winning back the ball. But having said that, I didn't take into account height and weight in making my choices."

Topics : Football Euro 2012 Mario Balotelli Italy Alou Diarra Lech Poznan
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