On the eve of Tuesday's eagerly awaited semi-final clash with hosts Germany, Italy coach Marcello Lippi put his side through their paces at the FIFA World Cup Stadium Dortmund, ready to bid for a place in Sunday's Final in Berlin.
The weather in Dortmund was hot and sunny, with temperatures of over 30 degrees. The Nazionale took the field at 5pm and the training session, open to the media, began shortly afterwards. Much of the speculation surrounding Lippi's final selection centred on the fitness of key figures Mauro Camoranesi and Alessandro Nesta , both of whom have been recovering from injuries.
Go to the Italy team page
On arrival at the stadium Argentine-born wide-man Camoranesi sat in the shade of the stand chatting to Juventus club-mate Fabio Cannavaro, before taking the field with the rest of Italy's 23-man squad. Both Camoranesi and Nesta took full part in the warm-up.
During the warm-up, Lippi divided his players into two teams, one wearing orange bibs and the other in plain white t-shirts. Massimo Oddo, Nesta, Andrea Barzagli, Cristian Zaccardo, Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo, Simone Perrotta, Francesco Totti, Toni, Vincenzo Iaquinta and Gianluigi Buffon were all decked out in orange while reserve goalkeeper Angelo Peruzzi lined up in white behind a probable first-choice defence of Fabio Cannavaro, Marco Materazzi, Gianluca Zambrotta and Fabio Grosso. In midfield for the whites were Camoranesi, Daniele De Rossi, Simone Barone and Alessandro Del Piero, with Alberto Gilardino and Filippo Inzaghi leading the attack.
First there was a ball-possession exercise for a final check on the team's movements with and without the ball, then it was time for the practice match. Unfortunately, mere moments into the game, a recurrence of the muscle injury that prevented Alessandro Nesta from playing against Australia and Ukraine forced him to return to the changing rooms.
It seems Lippi would have preferred Nesta not to have even begun the practice match and the defender's desperate last throw of the dice failed to pay off. Lippi's assistant, former Juve stalwart Ciro Ferrara, put on an orange bib and replaced Nesta in the centre of defence.
The AC Milan star is extremely unlikely to see action tomorrow and his involvement in Sunday's Final, should Italy get there, is also in serious doubt. Camoranesi, on the other hand, came through the session unscathed and all the signs point to him taking his usual right-midfield berth against Germany, with Perrotta on the left and Gattuso and Pirlo in the centre. Totti will play in front of midfield, with Fiorentina hitman Toni as the only out-and-out striker.
At the end of the practice session the three-time world champions practised taking penalties. Peruzzi made some fine saves, but was beaten from distance by a number of blistering efforts from Roma midfielder De Rossi, who will serve the last match of a four-game suspension against Germany.