Italy's midfield worries piling up ahead of Germany clash

MONTPELLIER: Italy coach Antonio Conte has some fresh worries over his team's midfield ahead of its European Championship quarterfinal clash against Germany on Saturday.

Daniele De Rossi, a veteran of the triumphant 2006 World Cup side, is a doubt after picking up a thigh injury in Italy's 2-0 round of 16 win over Spain on Monday. The 32-year-old has missed both training sessions since.

"We are doing everything to get him back but time is running out," Italy doctor Enrico Castellacci said Wednesday. "We don't want to make premature conclusions even if we know how close the match is."

Little was expected of Italy as it headed into the tournament with an aging team written off by critics and described as one of the worst-ever by the media back home.

However, the Azzurri and Conte have impressed from the start, beating Belgium 2-0 and going on to secure top spot in Group E with a game to spare. Victory over Spain was also somewhat of a surprise and another upset against Germany would see Italy emerge as a genuine contender for the title.

"There's a good atmosphere," Italy forward Ciro Immobile said. "The Spain match gave us extra motivation. It's not that there wasn't before, but winning against a great team always gives you confidence.

Now we are facing an even stronger team in Germany. We have to train for it as well was we did for Spain."