In much the same way that kryptonite is to Superman what Martin Demichelis is to Manchester City, Italy national team boss Cesare Prandelli may be increasingly aware that Daniele De Rossi could be as much a hindrance to the Azzurri’s World Cup campaign as a help.
Drawn alongside England in Group D, the Italians can be backed at 20/1 to win the tournament in Brazil, though whether that is with or without De Rossi remains in question.
The Roma man was omitted from the Azzurri’s squad for this week’s friendly with Spain after being caught punching Inter Milan forward Mauro Icardi during the Roman’s 0-0 draw with Inter Milan at the weekend.
Prandelli has always taken a hard line with behaviour of this kind, having previously dropped forwards Mario Balotelli and Pablo Osvaldo for similar offences, but it remains a worrying development for De Rossi, who has been prone to outbursts of this kind over the years.
The most notable of these came back at the 2006 World Cup where Italy emerged victorious in spite of the midfielder, who played a limited role at the tournament after picking up a straight red card and a four match ban in the group stage for aiming an elbow at USA striker Brian McBride in a collision that left the forward requiring stitches.
To date, De Rossi has picked up just five red cards domestically in his career, but as the Inter incident at the weekend and his previous exploits on the international stage show, the player has something of history for losing his head.
And while his suspension in 2006 was manageable thanks in part to a squad that contained plenty of midfield talent, De Rossi occupies a much more influential role for the Azzurri this time out.
It was his goal against Spain in their opening 1-1 draw with the defending champions that put the team on course for a commendable final appearance and they would struggle to replace him if his poor attitude results in exclusion from the squad or an early red card at the competition.
Italy can be backed at 14/1 with Ladbrokes to repeat their runner-up finish, but any kind of explosive outbursts from the volatile star could spell disaster, with those backing the Italians to repeat their World Cup 2010 group stage exit invited to do so at 2/1.
A player capable of turning a game in their favour, an early dismissal at the finals or continued issues on the pitch for Roma could see De Rossi miss out on the action – much to the advantage of England.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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