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Montolivo set to start against England

SoccerNews in European Championships, Serie A 24 Jun 2012

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Riccardo Montolivo is set to start Italy’s Euro 2012 quarter-final clash against England despite Thiago Motta being cleared to play.

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Motta has started all three games for Italy in the tournament so far, but a muscular problem had put his participation in Sunday’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 attack midfielder 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 side.

Prandelli confirmed Motta’s availability at a pre-match press conference on Saturday, 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’s) game,” he said.

“There’s no question about his availability – we just have to decide whether or not we need him, tactically.”

Motta had earlier confirmed 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.

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