Italy hit with key injuries after loss to Brazil
SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) -- Italy was left battered and bruised after losing two starters to injury in a 4-2 loss to Brazil at the Confederations Cup. And the Azzurri have just five days to recuperate before probably facing World Cup holder Spain in the semifinals.
Midfielder Riccardo Montolivo exited in the 26th minute Saturday due to dizziness after a knock to the head and fullback Ignazio Abate walked off gingerly two minutes later with an injury to his right shoulder following a collision with Brazil standout Neymar, ending his tournament.
"Abate has a serious problem with his shoulder. His Confederations Cup is finished,'' Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said. "We can only wish him the best of luck to heal quickly and eventually come back.
"Riccardo was hit with the ball in the first minute and was a bit nauseous so we had to take him off but he seems OK now,'' Prandelli added.
However, team physician Enrico Castellacci said that Montolivo would undergo a scan at a local hospital.
Italy was already without midfield star Andrea Pirlo, who sat out the game with a strained right leg muscle.
Making matters worse, the Italians have struggled with the heat and humidity in their last two matches and now travel to the tournament's hottest venue of Fortaleza.
"We're hoping Andrea comes back and that the rest of the squad can recuperate over these four-five days so we can play a good match,'' Prandelli said.
Italy finished second to Brazil in Group A and will next face the winner of Group B.
Spain leads Group B with a full six points ahead of its final group game against Nigeria on Sunday. Uruguay and Nigeria are next with three points each, with Uruguay facing Tahiti - which has zero points - in the other group game Sunday.
Italy last faced Spain in the final of last year's European Championship, when the Azzurri were beaten 4-0. Prandelli and his players cited fatigue as the cause of that result, having opened that tournament by drawing 1-1 with Spain.
A bit of positive news for Italy was that Stephan El Shaarawy has recovered from a bruised foot. The AC Milan forward came on for the final 18 minutes against Brazil.
Also, midfielder Daniele De Rossi will be back from suspension, having missed the Brazil match after picking up two yellow cards.
Italy also let in four goals in their previous match, but Prandelli was not concerned with his defense.
"Brazil's fourth goal came when we were pressing forward attempting to equalize, so that's nothing to worry about,'' he said. "I was very encouraged by how we played and reacted in the second half.''
Italy's two goals Saturday came from Emanuele Giaccherini, who came on for Montolivo, and from center back Giorgio Chiellini.
Giaccherini set up Mario Balotelli's winner in Italy's opener against Mexico and forced an own goal in the win over Japan. Balotelli returned the favor this time with an acrobatic setup for Giaccherini's second goal in 12 appearances with the national team
As for Chiellini, it was his third goal in 60 appearances.
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