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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Chance to Resore Italian Pride: Azzurrini Advance to UEFA U-21 Semi-finals in Sweden

Yesterday, the Italian Under 21, or the Azzurrini, advanced to the semi-final round of the UEFA U-21 Championship in Sweden by defeating Belarus, 2 x 1. Robert Acquafresca, who is owned by Genoa but will be loaned out next season with Atalanta of Bergamo, scored a brace.

SOCCER: Cagliari Team Practice in Porto Corallo
Robert Acquafresca played with Cagliari last year, and scored 14 goals.

Italy has an excellent record in this competition. Since 1978 when the competition began, they have won it 5 times. Most recently, in 2004.

Semi-Finals on Friday

On Friday, they will face Germany in Helsinborg. In the other semi-final tie, England will meet Sweden. The final will take place next Monday in Malmo. The Azzurrini are managed by Gigi Casiraghi, who played professionally for Chelsea, Juventus, and Lazio. He was also capped many times for the Azzurri. In my opinion, he stands a very good chance to succeed Marcello Lippi on the senior bench when the great Mister ultimately retires.

Pier Luigi Casiraghi of Italy
Gigi Casiraghi at World Cup 1994.

This event is a showcase for future talent at the senior level. For example, many have already called for Mister Lippi to draft in current U-21 talents such as Mario Balotelli (Inter Milan), Marco Motta (AS Roma), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), and Acquafresca.

Torino v Inter - Serie A
Mario Balotelli is a prodigious but hot-tempered talent for Internazionale.

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