De Rossi: “I’m dreaming of my fourth World Cup and we can do something in Spain”

Daniele De Rossi is the last Azzurri player to have scored against Spain. His penalty on 6th October in Turin allowed Italy to level and make it 1-1 against the Roja to keep hopes of qualifying as group winners alive. Now, to move ahead of Spain in the race to Russia, it will be necessary to put in some effort and beat Spain at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid.

“They’re the favourites but we’re not going there as sacrificial lambs, we’re aware that we can do something,” said Daniele De Rossi at the day’s press conference. “In recent years, Spain have shone brightly in front of the world, but we’re also coming in to this game off the back of some good performances, especially against them which gives us courage and confidence. I hope that we’ll play an excellent match against them, also in terms of our nerves and focus as to win in Madrid would be a great experience.”

As a World Cup winner, De Rossi knows that the match on Saturday evening will be an important test for an Italy team which has picked up nine positive results in a row. “Ours is a young team, with a good dose of personality we’ve always shown that we know what to do on the pitch. The result is the most important thing but I’ll also look at how the entire side reacts to certain tempos, certain opponents and the pressure of playing at the Bernabeu. I dream of playing at my fourth World Cup, it would be the final one for me and a great adventure if I can experience it with this wonderful group.”

“Lots might think that we have nothing to lose in this match,” added De Rossi. “But, we know that we’ll really give it everything, we’re treating this match as though it’s a final with lots at stake. In any case, I’m sure that we’ll at least finish second in this group. I’m not saying that it will be easy, but this also appears to be backed up by what we’ve seen on the pitch. Obviously, it would be better to avoid the playoffs which are always a difficult task.”

The Roma captain with his ability to drop into defence has shown throughout his long career that he can cover all of the roles in midfield. “I’m calm about the system the Coach chooses, I can play in a two-man or three-man midfield,” De Rossi went on. His 21 goals also make him the highest scorer for Italy in this current squad although the hope is that the strike partnership of Belotti and Immobile can soon surpass him.

“Andrea scored on Sunday the kind of goal that a forward dreams of two or three times in their life. The thing that impresses me about him is his ruthlessness and the commitment he shows in 90 minutes and in training. He and Immobile complement one another well and Italy can count on a partnership of two really strong forwards for the future. Verratti is also a player of absolute class, while Insigne is a great player who has been improving recently under Sarri.”

Italy can hope to relive that magical night at the Bernabeu on 11th July 1982 when De Rossi wasn’t even born as Bearzot’s lifted the third World Cup in Azzurri history. It was an incredible moment for millions of fans and the stars of that triumph such as Gabriele Oriali who sat beside De Rossi in the conference. “I have great memories when I return to the Bernabeu,” explained the current Team Manager. “It was in Madrid where I was a director for Inter as they won the Champions League and I’m enthusiastic about this latest match. Spain are very, very strong but they might also be a bit afraid of us because they know it’s never easy to play us.”


Squad list
Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan), Mattia Perin (Genoa);
Defenders: Davide Astori (Fiorentina), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Milan), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Andrea Conti (Milan), Danilo D’Ambrosio (Inter), Matteo Darmian (Manchester United), Daniele Rugani (Juventus), Leonardo Spinazzola (Atalanta);
Midfielders: Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Riccardo Montolivo (Milan), Marco Parolo (Lazio), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint Germain);
Wingers: Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus), Antonio Candreva (Inter), Stephan El Shaarawy (Roma), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli);
Forwards: Andrea Belotti (Torino), Eder Citadin Martins (Inter), Manolo Gabbiadini (Southampton), Ciro Immobile (Lazio.

National Team’s schedule 

Thursday 31st August
13.30 Meeting the media (players)
18.00 Training (first 15 minutes open to the press)

Friday 1st September – MD 1
9.30     Training (first 15 minutes open to the press)
16.30 Flight from Florence to Madrid
19.30 Walk-round at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium
20.00    Press conference – coach and one player

Spain’s media commitments
12.00 Press conference (Coach and one player) at the Salón Villalonga at the Spanish headquarters
Adress: Real Federación Española de Fútbol Avda. Ramón y Cajal, s/n – 28230     Las Rozas (Madrid)
20.30 Training (open to the public and press)

Saturday 2nd September
20.45        SPAIN vs. ITALY – Santiago Bernabeu Stadium;  Referee Kuipers (Netherlands)
Squad will meet the press after the match and will then return to their hotel

Sunday 3rd September
10.30 Flight from Madrid to Florence
18.00  Training (first 15 minutes open to the press)

Monday 4th September MD-1
9.30   Training  (first 15 minutes open to the press)
17.30 Bus transfer to Reggio Emilia
19.30 Walk-round at the Stadio ‘Città del Tricolore’ (open to the press)
20.00     Press conference for coach and one player

Israel’s media commitments at the Stadio Città del Tricolore:
17.30 Press conference for coach and one player
18.00 Training (first 15 minutes open to the press)

Tuesday 5th September
20.45 ITALY VS. ISRAEL – Stadio Città del Tricolore; Referee Bastien (Francia). Meeting with the press after the match