De Rossi: Italy has a solid core

The 30-year-old midfielder believes his side is a strong unit that has the ability to compete at the World Cup due to its mix of experienced and young players.

Italy’s Daniele De Rossi believes his side’s wealth of experience and the recent intake of younger players has created a solid core in the national team.

The 30-year-old, who was part of the squad that won the 2006 World Cup, has claimed that the younger players learn a lot from the older ones which creates a smooth transition for inexperienced footballers to the international stage.

Italy beat England 2-1 in its opening World Cup game and is among the favorites to do well at the tournament.

“It is important to have some sort of solid core in a national team, that group of four, five, six players who have been together for a few years,” De Rossi told FIFA’s official website. “Those players, having gone through various experiences and even a World Cup, can help the new and younger players who come in.

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“Balotelli, Verratti and Darmian are a few of the new players, but there are many others, such as Insigne and Immobile. It’s easier to integrate these players because there’s already a strong structure in place, a solid group that can help make the step up smoother for the youngsters.”

Since Cesare Prandelli took over as Italy coach in 2010, the Azzurri have altered their style of play and now fashion a team with more control and a better grasp of passing. However, De Rossi does not believe they have directly copied Spain’s famous style of tiki-taka football, which saw the Spanish win three major championships in a row.

“It [tiki-taka] is better suited to Spain for what they've done in recent years. They have more possession of the ball and all those quality players," he added. “Maybe we have less quality, less control than Spain, but we also perhaps have other resources. We have a good defense and we're a team with strong and explosive strikers.

“Spain sometimes use midfielders in attack, so we’re a bit different, but we're starting to resemble them and we have some midfielders that have brought about a change in the way we approach the game.”

When asked if he believes being tough is at the core of his game, De Rossi suggested that his role requires him to be physical but he has a lot more qualities than his tackling ability.

“Well, I don’t exactly agree [that I’m tough]. I guess it depends what you mean by tough,” he said. “On the pitch, my position and my role require a physical side, constant contact with my opponent. If that's what you mean by tough, it’s correct.

“But, if you look at my club career, for example, I have only ever received one red card, and that was eight years ago. I play fair, even though sometimes the tackles are tough!”