Italy relying on new scoring duo for WC

Rome, May 3 :

Italy forwards Alberto Gilardino and Luca Toni believe they can help the Azzurri win their first World Cup title since 1982.

“Playing my first World Cup at the age of 23 is unbelievable. It’s a great opportunity,” Gilardino said on Wednesday. “I want to make a name for myself on the international level,” the AC Milan striker added. Gilardino has scored 17 goals in the Serie A in his first season at Milan, but he didn’t perform as well in Europe, failing to score in all 10 matches in the Champions League.

“I had opportunities, I was just unlucky,” Gilardino said, referring to his shot that hit the post in the first leg of the semi-finals against FC Barcelona. “I think the goals will come next season, and with the national team.” Gilardino has scored six goals in 13 games for Italy.

He and Toni have taken over the Azzurri’s attack after Italy’s first-round exit from the 2004 European Championship. Toni leads the Serie A with 28 goals and has also used his 1.93-meter frame to score seven goals in 16 appearances for Italy. He scored one goal in a 3-1 win over the Netherlands and another in a 4-1 win over Germany in Italy’s last two friendlies against top opponents.

“We’re playing beautiful soccer. We have many offensive players,” Toni said. “Our strength is the team spirit.” Francesco Totti is the playmaker — the ‘1’ in Italy’s preferred 4-3-1-2 lineup — that directs Gilardino and Toni.