Euro `96: Sacchi rotating his resources

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The Independent Online
Fabrizio Ravanelli was yesterday recalled by Italy for tonight's European Championship match against the Czech Republic at Anfield as the coach, Arrigo Sacchi, made a surprising five changes.

Ravanelli, the Juventus striker will be partnered by the pounds 9m Parma forward, Enrico Chiesa, who makes his senior international debut.

Sacchi rests Gianfranco Zola and front-line partner Pier Luigi Casiraghi, the man who scored both goals in the opening 2-1 win against Russia. Another casualty is Alessandro del Piero, who loses his place to Roberto Donadoni, his half-time replacement on Tuesday.

There are two other changes in midfield, with Diego Fuser and Dino Baggio drafted in for Angelo Di Livio and Roberto di Matteo. Sacchi, who retains his entire defence, had always planned to rotate his strong squad and knows that victory will take his side into the quarter-finals.

Sacchi, explaining his selection, said: "Revolution is not the right word - there are only three changes from the team which finished against Russia."

Donadoni, Ravanelli and Fuser all went on as substitutes after the interval against the Russians, but the Italian coach came under fire for leaving out strikers Casiraghi and Zola for the game against the Czech Republic.

Sacchi countered the criticism, saying: "The night before the game against Russia no one wanted them. I've taken criticism from everybody, but I believe that leaving them out is in the interests of the team and of the two players as well."

The Italians will have had only two clear days between matches and their coach added: "You can't play in the European Championship with only 11, 12 or 13 players - and I have great faith in all my 22."

Antonio Oliveira, the Portuguese coach, insists he will never compromise on his ambition to make his team the most technically gifted national side in Europe - even at the risk of sacrificing victory against Turkey in this afternoon's vital Group D match in Nottingham. "It is always important to win, but I never want to win by playing badly,'' Oliveira said.

Cynics have reserved judgement on Portugal's imaginative opening performance against the holders, Denmark, last Sunday after they dominated the game but could only draw 1-1.

ITALY (against Czech Republic, Anfield, tonight): Peruzzi (Juventus); Mussi, Apolloni (both Parma), Costacurta, Maldini (both Milan); Fuser (Lazio), Albertini (Milan), Baggio (Parma), Donadoni (New York/NJ MetroStars); Ravanelli (Juventus), Chiesa (Sampdoria).

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