Porto: A 0-0 draw to start the tournament and then losing their main player due to sheer stupidity means that Italy are in big trouble. The 1968 champions play Sweden today and they will have to play without Francesco Totti who got a three-match ban for spitting. The spitting incident wasn't caught by most TV stations, but it was picked up in Denmark. And the person at the receiving end was a Danish defender. Francisco Totti pleaded guilty at the hearing and duly got a three-match ban. Totti however did say that he was shocked at his own behaviour, but the damage has been done. The newspaper headlines quite predictably gave the story top billing and azzuri supporters were in a state of shock. However Totti will be forgiven if Italy can somehow get to the quarter-finals. They have 1 point from the 0-0 draw with Denmark and next up for them is formidable Sweden. Totti's absence means Del Piero fills in at the central playmaker position, while Antonio Cassano will probably get a starting spot. Sweden are in a much more comfortable position. They beat Bulgaria 5-0 and a win over Italy will take them to the quarter-finals. Henrik Larsson once again will be a key figure for the Swedes. He came out of retirement to play this tournament after a public petition asked him to reconsider. Italy will also have to keep a close look out for Freddie Ljungberg. The Arsenal mid-fielder is as famous for modelling Calvin Klein products as he is for being a dangerous finisher. "I've always said that I think the Italians are very good tactically. They know exactly what to do in a defensive situation. So it's going to be very difficult for us. At the same time, we have very good confidence from the Bulgarian game a nd we're going to keep on going - like we did then - and, hopefully, we will exploit the weaknesses, if we can find some," said Ljungberg. However, Totti's absence may not make it any easier for the Swedes to reverse the result when the teams last met, in Euro 2000. Italy won 2-1 in Eindhoven on its way to the final.
Topics : Football