|Italy's players celebrate victory against England. (REUTERS)
KIEV, UKRAINE - Given the match-fixing scandal that has engulfed the sport of soccer in his country, Italian president Giorgio Napolitano probably was thrilled to get some good news for a change.
Indeed, according to Italian manager Cesare Prandelli, a phone call from the president was already waiting when they euphorically walked into the dressing room after their dramatic win in penalties over England at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev on Sunday.
“He was very happy and so were the players to hear from him,” Prandelli said.
What will make Prandelli even happier is if some of his banged-up players return in time for Thursday’s huge semifinal in Warsaw against Germany.
The Germans will be out for revenge on that night, having lost a 2006 World Cup semifinal match on home soil to the deserving Italians, who would go on to win the title.
Of particular concern is the status of midfielder Daniele De Rossi, who hobbled out of the game against England. Prandelli described it as a “muscle” issue.
“Germany will be the favourites,” Prandelli said. “But if we get some players healthy, Italy has a chance to go to the final.”
That would be sweet music to the ears of president Napolitano.