Following their opening match in the competition, Italy trained at the Stozice Arena in Ljubjana. Menichelli’s worked at a low tempo following the 1-1 draw with Serbia when Massimo De Luca levelled after Italy had gone behind.
It was a tough match and made worse by the injury to the left knee suffered by Gabriel Lima at the end of the match. He will be unavailable for the match against Slovenia with a place in the quarter-finals on the line. As a precaution, Menichelli has called up his Sporting teammate Rodolfo Fortino as a replacement. Should Lima not be fit, a request will be made to UEFA to change the squad list.
Massimo De Luca enjoyed being the man of the moment as his goal in front of 10,000 fans reopened the possibility of finishing top of the group. “This isn’t something that we’re afraid of. Even if the support is against us, our team is used to it and we can approach such situations. We can’t wait to go on the pitch and secure this qualification. I’m happy for the goal and its importance for us all because the draw means we can still finish top of the group and continue playing an important role at the European Championship.”
It was also Stefano Mammarella’s birthday as he turned 34. “I’m at my fifth European Championship and it’s not the first time that it’s struck me. A win tomorrow all together to qualify will be the best present that my teammates can give.”
European Championships: The groups
Group A: Slovenia, Serbia, ITALY
Group B: Russia, Kazakhstan, Poland
Group C: Portugal, Ukraine, Romania
Group D: Spain, Azerbaijan, France
*The first two of each group qualify for the quarter-finals