Italy’s Montolivo ruled out of World Cup

AC Milan suffered broken leg during last night’s friendly against the Republic of Ireland

Italy’s Riccardo Montolivo  receives medical attention after breaking his leg at Craven Cottage last night. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

Italy’s Riccardo Montolivo receives medical attention after breaking his leg at Craven Cottage last night. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters


Inevitably, the broken leg suffered by midfielder, Riccardo Montolivo, tended to overshadow all other Italian reaction to last night’s 0-0 friendly draw with Ireland at Craven Cottage, London. The AC Milan captain, who will now miss the World Cup finals, was flown to Milan last night in order to undergo an operation later today.

Fortunately for Italo-Irish relations, commentators agreed that the incident in which he was injured, following a contrast with defender Alex Pearce, was simply a question of bad luck: “Pearce is a tough player, but not a dirty one and you could not call the contrast in which Montolivo was injured a dangerous tackle. Both players went for the ball but Pearce’s knee caught Montolivo as he slid out of the tackle”, commented sports daily Gazzetta Dello Sport.

The suspicion that the eighth minute injury was serious was immediately clear with Italian TV commentators lip-reading Montolivo as he said to a team mate, “I’ve broken it”, while receiving initial medical attendance on the pitch. The bad Italian start got worse before half-time when Montolivo’s replacement, former Liverpool midfielder, Alberto Aquilani, also had to be substituted following a blow to the head when going up for a high ball.

Italian coach Cesare Prandelli acknowledged afterwards said that both injuries had knocked the stuffing out of his side, following what had been a bright start: “This was a game dominated by our injuries. We all suffered a terrible psychological blow after Montolivo’s injury.”

Following Montolivo’s injury, Prandelli conceded last night that he might now take 25 players with him to Brazil, two more than the regulation World Cup squad. All countries are required to submit their 23 player squad list by tomorrow but Prandelli may take two other players with him in order to avail of the Fifa regulation which allows for an injury-enforced squad change, up to 24 hours before a team’s opening game. Italy start against England in Group D in Manaus on June 14th.

If PSG midfielder Marco Verratti now seems certain to travel, in the wake of the Montolivo injury, Prandelli’s major remaining doubts seem to be focused on Fiorentina striker Giuseppe Rossi. Although he played for more than an hour of last night’s game, Rossi still looks short of full match fitness following a five month injury lay-off.

Prandelli would appear to have two other areas of doubt, having to chose between Parma’s Italo-Argentine, Gabriel Paletta, and Inter’s Andrea Rinocchia in defence and between Aquilani and Parma’s Marco Parolo in midfield. One probable “surprise” choice could be Torino’s Matteo Darmian, who made a highly satisfactory international debut against Ireland last night.

Prandelli is expected to name his 23 (Or 25) later today.

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