Mario balotelli and his colleagues first looked at the destination of their dreams from above. From the 710-meter-high corcovado with the world-famous statue of christ, italy’s national players looked down on the legendary maracana stadium.
"We need protection from above and we will certainly get it. This pilgrimage will certainly do us good," said coach cesare prandelli.
In brazil’s newly built soccer sanctuary, the squadra azzurra aims to lay the foundation for a successful confed cup on sunday against mexico. The bad memories of the failure at the mini-world cup four years ago in south africa are finally to be dispelled at the sugar loaf.
That’s how the italians think, but that’s also how the spanish think. Just like their opponents, who were so impressively beaten 4-0 in the 2012 european championship final, the world cup and european championship champions still have a score to settle for their own ego. Since 2006, the 0:2 in the 2009 confed cup semifinal against the united states in eleven k. O.-play the only defeat of the spaniards. A triumph in the final on 30. June became the title collection of xavi and co. But still make it complete. So far, only france has managed this (world championship 1998, european championship 2000, confed cup 2001). The first step will be taken on sunday in recife in the most difficult group match against uruguay.
Preparations were not ideal for the italians. After a 2-1 loss to haiti, the spaniards improved in the last test and defeated ireland 2:0. The italians revealed motivation problems. The 0:0 in the world cup qualifiers in the czech republic, including another dropout by bad boy balotelli, was followed by the embarrassing 2:2 in the test against haiti shortly after arriving in rio de janeiro.
"Mude azzurri without hunger for success," wrote the "la gazzetta dello sport" already of a disaster in the making. "That was a disgrace," prandelli was furious. "Something like this must not happen to a team like ours," warned goalkeeper gianluigi buffon. Led by balotelli, the azzurri, who are in brazil with their families, showed more zeal at the swim in the atlantic than at the test match. Balotelli’s partner in attack, stephan el shaarawy, is also causing some concern. The 20-year-old talent from AC milan had to sit out training recently due to muscle problems.
The italians’ motivation must be right again against mexico. The woman also prandelli. CONCACAF champion competes in brazil with eight olympic champions from london 2012. The boy-group led by manchester united’s star javier "chicharito" hernandez female how rough victories taste. "Many didn’t think we could win in london, and we did. We are strong enough to beat any team in any stadium," said coach jose manuel de la torre.
Uruguay is currently a long way from such an attitude. At the site of the last rough world cup triumph, now 63 years ago, coach oscar tabarez is more concerned with the complicated present. The 1:0 in venezuela during the week at least brought back hope for a successful world cup qualification. Being in brazil next year is also a matter of prestige for the small neighboring country of the world cup hosts.