Al­ba­nia wary of in­sa­tiable ‘Rooster’ Belotti

New Straits Times - - Sport -

MI­LAN: He’s known as the ‘Rooster’ with the in­sa­tiable ap­petite for goals, and Al­ba­nia coach Gianni Di Bi­asi, for one, will be hop­ing Italy sen­sa­tion An­drea Belotti goes hun­gry today.

“I would have pre­ferred it if there was a for­eign striker on top of the Se­rie A scor­ing charts right now,” De Bi­asi told La Stampa ear­lier this week.

“That’s a full year Belotti’s been on top of his game, but the tragedy for us is that it’s not just him we have to worry about up front.”

Nine months on from their quar­ter-fi­nal exit on penal­ties to Ger­many at Euro 2016, Italy look to take another step to­wards the 2018 World Cup in Rus­sia when they host a heav­ily-sup­ported Al­ba­nia side in Palermo today.

Cur­rently joint top of Group G with Spain, but with only group winners au­to­mat­i­cally go­ing through, it is an ap­point­ment the Az­zurri can’t af­ford to miss as they look ten­ta­tively, fol­low­ing a 1-1 draw with Spain in Turin last year, to­wards a pos­si­ble group de­cider away to La Roja on Sept 2.

“There’s no fear, but the re­sult against Al­ba­nia is ex­tremely im­por­tant ahead of play­ing Spain in Septem­ber,” Italy coach Gian Piero Ven­tura said at the team’s Cover­ciano train­ing base.

Yet if Belotti can re­pro­duce the form that has shot him to the Se­rie A sum­mit on 22 goals, Ven­tura can rest as­sured.

In only his sec­ond full sea­son with Torino — and a fledg­ling international ca­reer that has

Italy’s An­drea Belotti has scored 22 times for his club Torino in Se­rie A this sea­son.

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