Italy ready to take a risk on old Hammer Diamanti in semi-final


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The Independent Online

For a man who is best known in England for the £1.5m that is still owed to West Ham United for his transfer to Brescia in 2010, Alessandro Diamanti is on the brink of the greatest achievement of a patchy career.

At 29, and with just three caps to his name, Diamanti is being seriously considered by Italy's coach, Cesare Prandelli, to start tonight's semi-final against Germany in attack ahead of Antonio Cassano. Prandelli said yesterday that Diamanti, for all his faults in the past, had shown something in the last month that suggested he was ready to play on such a stage.

It was Diamanti who scored the penalty that eliminated England on Sunday, and taking penalties was one thing he was always good at in his one season at West Ham, in which the club finished 17th in the Premier League. He was voted as runner-up to Scott Parker in the supporters' player of the year award that season and in the two years since, at Brescia and now Bologna, has steadily improved.

Neither Cassano nor Mario Balotelli, Prandelli's first-choice pairing, has scored when both of them have been on the pitch at Euro 2012 and against Germany, the coach is contemplating a change.

Yesterday, Prandelli said that his team had changed, that the Italian style was no longer, as they showed against England, to be cagey, and that even against the fluid, attacking Germans they would stick to their approach.

"It would be a shame to waste the work of the last two years, and we would be lacking in maturity if we tried to play a different way," Prandelli said. "You must risk a bit to be true to your professional philosophy."