The new AC Milan midfielder will start as the Azzurri's trequartista, despite the Brazilian-born Paris Saint-Germain ace having been passed fit to play after a muscle problem
Riccardo Montolivo is set to start Italy’s Euro 2012 quarter-final clash with England despite Thiago Motta having been given a clean bill of health ahead of the crunch last-eight fixture on Sunday evening.
The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder has started all three games for the Azzurri in the tournament so far, but a muscular problem had put his participation in tonight’s match at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev in doubt. However, despite Motta being passed fit to play, coach Cesare Prandelli is set to favour Montolivo over the Brazil native.
The new AC Milan signing has battled with Motta for the right to call himself Italy’s first-choice trequartista for most of Prandelli’s reign, and the former Fiorentina man, who has played just 30 minutes against Croatia so far in the finals, will be given the nod against Roy Hodgson’s Three Lions.
Prandelli confirmed Motta’s availability at a pre-match press conference yesterday, but refused to confirm him as a starter. "Thiago Motta has a muscle problem, but he has trained and is available for tomorrow's [Sunday] game,” said the head coach. “There's no question about his availability - we just have to decide whether or not we need him, tactically."
Motta had earlier confirmed himself that he was ready to play, and also promoted his cause for a starting berth by emphasising his flexibility. “I am good now,” he told reporters. “I felt a pain, but I spoke with the medic and that has reassured me. I am ready to play.
“I can play in midfield or behind the two strikers. It is a role I have already fulfilled many times.”
However, despite his plea, it is Montolivo who will get the shirt from the first minute, with the reward for a win being a clash with Germany, the birthplace of his mother Antje, in the semi-final on Thursday.