De Rossi looks set for defensive role

Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi revealed he will play in defence against Spain in tomorrow’s Group C opener.

De Rossi is set to take the place of injured defender Andrea Barzagli and play alongside Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci in Italy’s back line.

Barzagli is sidelined for the group stages with a calf injury.

“I have always adapted tactically,” De Rossi said. “I think it is right to do so. The fascination of the European Championship is second to the World Cup and if you want to have a starring role, you need to adapt. There is a 99% chance I will play in defence but to say that my role will be of central defender is not exactly right as I will act as a link between the defence and the midfield.”

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli considered making tactical changes after his team’s sub-par display in last week’s 3-0 defeat to Russia in a friendly.

De Rossi is aware of the task that awaits his team, who take on the tournament holders and World champions to start their Euro adventure. “We will play against the best in the world and it will be tough,” the Roma midfielder said. “I enjoy watching Spain play. Spain are the strongest of all the teams but in a tournament like as brief as this one, you can beat them.”

De Rossi, a member of Italy’s World Cup winning squad in 2006 in Germany, admits the Azzurri could have done without the latest match-fixing scandal to hit the nation.

Prandelli was forced to drop Zenit St Petersburg defender Domenico Criscito from the squad last week as he is under investigation. “There has been a lot of talk but all will be forgotten,” De Rossi said. “A month before we won the World Cup in Germany there was a similar atmosphere as there is now. It is slightly annoying because whenever the national team is mentioned the issue of the match-fixing and betting scandal follows. But none of us that are here are involved in this.

“It is not as if all our football is dirty as it may appear.”

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