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Saturday, 17 June, 2000, 17:39 GMT 18:39 UK
Del Piero is ready for action
Alessandro Del Piero
Del Piero ready to start for his country
Italy's Alessandro Del Piero is better prepared then ever for a major tournament and is convinced he will get a chance to shine during Euro 2000.

The diminutive Juventus forward played only a peripheral role in Italy's opening group B victories, but his coach Dino Zoff appears certain to start him against Sweden.

The Italians have already qualified for the quarter-finals as group winners and Zoff is likely to rest many of his first team players.

Del Piero wants to stake his claim for a first-team place and has said he is ready to answer the call.

"Certainly in terms of form and maybe also psychologically...I've perhaps never been this well prepared before," he said.

Del Piero has suffered a catalogue of set-backs over the last few years.

I've perhaps never been this well prepared before

Alessandro Del Piero

He played only the first 45 minutes of Euro 96 and watched the rest of Italy's humiliating first round exit from the sidelines.

He then suffered an injury on the eve of the last World Cup in France, missed Italy's opening two matches and made little impression when he returned later in the competition.

He came to Euro 2000 following a mediocre Serie A season in Italy, but appears to be rediscovering his form on the training pitch at Geel in northern Belgium.

A good performance against the Swedes and Del Piero could be back in Zoff's first team plans.

Shuffled cards

"Zoff has shuffled his cards more than once before hasn't he?" he asked.

"I don't think the fact the coach has chosen the same line-up for the last two matches means that's the end of the story.

"At the moment it doesn't look as if we need to make changes but the further we go in the tournament the tougher our opponents will become."

Del Piero said he accepted his substitute's role but would like to play more.

"The best scenario would be to play for a full match and score the winning goal in the 90th minute," Del Piero admitted.

Italy play Sweden in their fnal group match in Eindhoven on Monday.

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See also:

17 Jun 00 | Italy
Fiore blooms with Azzurri
15 Jun 00 | Italy
Zoff defends tactics
14 Jun 00 | Italy
Italy head for quarter-finals
14 May 00 | Squad
Alessandro del Piero
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