Soccer: Totti in World Cup form, says Prandelli
Coach defends recalling Balotelli after ref-abuse ban07 October, 16:58
Totti, who turned 37 last month, is enjoying an Indian summer to his career and helped Roma maintain their perfect start to the season with a double in Saturday's 3-0 win at Inter Milan.
"Totti is fantastic at the moment," Prandelli said. "If the World Cup were in the immediate future, today he'd be part of the team. Absolutely".
Totti stopped playing for Italy after helping the national team win the 2006 World Cup.
But the forward, a born-and-bred Roman who has only ever played senior soccer for the club he supported as a child, has often said he would consider coming back for the World Cup if his fitness and form put him in a position to be recalled. Prandelli also spoke about AC Milan forward Mario Balotelli Monday at the Azzurri's training camp near Florence ahead of their last two World Cup qualifiers - against Denmark in Copenhagen on Friday and Armenia in Naples four days later.
The coach had been expected to drop the talented, temperamental 23-year-old in accordance with the national team's code of conduct after he was given a three-match ban in Serie A for abusing a referee in a defeat against Napoli last month.
But Prandelli, whose side are seven points clear at the top of European qualifying Group B and have already booked their place in Brazil, said he was not going to join a witch-hunt against his star striker.
"I was angry with Balotelli, but he's served the ban and I'm not going to add another punishment by dropping him," said the coach, who has left the striker out of his squad in the past after previous misdemeanours.
"There is a crusade. Everyone against Balotelli. I prefer to look him in the eye. We'll make a pact with the whole team never to repeat certain forms of behaviour". Another Italian forward in the news is Giuseppe Rossi, who has made a good start to the season with Fiorentina, scoring five goals in Serie A, to earn himself a recall from Prandelli after missing two years of action due to knee injuries. "I recalled him because he's getting back to playing at a very high level after two difficult years and I want him to understand that he's part of this group," said Prandelli. Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi, however, is set to miss the Denmark and Armenia games as a precautionary measure due to a leg-tendon problem. Prandelli added Monday that he was willing to take the national team to Lampedusa in the wake of last week's migrant-boat disaster off the Sicilian island in which 363 people are feared to have died. Lampedusa the main destination for the crowded unsafe boats that every year carry thousands of migrants looking for a better life from North Africa to Europe. Many die making the hazardous crossing and last week's disaster has led to calls from figures including Pope Francis for action to be taken to avoid repetitions. "When faced with tragedies like this, we all have to contribute to create a new mentality," Prandelli told reporters at an Azzurri training camp near Florence. "We haven't received any invitations, but if we do, we won't shy away. "I'm willing.
It's important to give certain messages". In the past Prandelli's side has taken high-profile initiatives to raise awareness for important causes, such as training on a field seized from the mafia in southern Italy and visiting Auschwitz during Euro 2012.