Alessandro Del Piero is ready to take centre stage when Italy face Romania in tonight’s Euro 2008 showdown in Zurich.
The Juventus striker will be one of the changes made by coach Roberto Donadoni for the Group C encounter at the Letzigrund stadium.
Del Piero, who is the most experienced player in the squad with 87 caps, will also be handed the captaincy with skipper Fabio Cannavaro out injured.
“I want to make the difference,” said Del Piero. “I will play close to Luca Toni as the second striker.
“I always feel a responsibility when I represent my country, even when I don’t play and more so today when I will captain the team.
“But none of it scares me.”
Del Piero was a second-half substitute in the Azzurri’s crushing 3-0 defeat by Holland in their opening game.
Despite failing to find the back of the net, the 33-year-old was considered the best Italian player on the pitch.
The Juve forward played a vital role in Italy’s World Cup triumph in Germany two years ago but poor form saw him dropped by Donadoni for several Euro 2008 qualifying games.
However, Del Piero hit back by finishing as Serie A’s leading scorer for the first time in his career after notching 21 goals for the Turin giants.
Donadoni will now be hoping Del Piero’s experience will spark his team to a vital win.
Having been humbled in their opening game, the Azzurri remain cautious ahead of the clash against Victor Piturca’s unfancied outfit.
“We know what awaits us,” said Del Piero. “I want to be at the right place, at the right time to do the right thing.
“I want to be pivotal.”
Romania captain Cristian Chivu, who alongside compatriot Adrian Mutu has considerable experience of Italian opposition as both play in Serie A, believes the pressure will be on the Azzurri.
Piturca’s side have already sent a warning to the Italians by holding World Cup runners-up France to a goalless draw in their first game.
“They are the ones that will have to push forward,” said Chivu. “So let them come because we will show them hell.”
The Internazionale defender admits he and his team-mates are determined to prove their worth against a nation they have not beaten in 19 years.
“We want to prove that we are not a generation of losers as we have often been described as,” said Chivu.