Is Italy's disharmony all a cunning ploy?

By FourFourTwo guest columnist Riccardo Rossi of Serie Aaaaargh!

The writing may not yet be on the wall, but it certainly has been in the text messages reportedly coming out of the Italy camp on the back of the defeat to Holland.

According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, following the Dutch disaster some less than satisfied Azzurri players have been sending snippy little comments about Roberto Donadoni and the general mood to friends who happen to have been left out of the squad.

Donadoni: actively seeking whistleblower

Apparently, one world champion in the squad texted another who isn’t in the squad, claiming that the players were being treated like children and no one had known who was in the side until an hour before kick-off against Holland. Something of an amateur psychiatrist, this Deep Throat went on to say that although the team were in good shape physically their heads were all over the place.

Speculation is rife as to who leaked this little bit of in-house gossip, but the Milan boys are probably getting a few funny looks as it seems that either Filippo Inzaghi or Massimo Oddo were on the receiving end and felt, for the good of the nation, that it was their duty to inform the country’s leading newspaper.

Milan mates: (L-R) Inzaghi, Gilardino, Oddo, Pirlo and Ambrosini

It’s all unsubstantiated, of course, and if Wednesday’s training session was anything to go by the players don’t seem to be treated like kids but certainly act like them. After a day spent doing adult things with their families such as walking around the park and sitting outside cafes around Oberwaltersdorf, it was back to the daily grind of kicking a ball around a field.

Antonio Cassano, but who else, had his own take on such matters and spent the warm-up session playing a game of bocce with a few stray footballs – bocce being closely related to bowls. His idyll was rudely interrupted by a swift size-eight from Mauro Camoranesi as the squad’s very own Charlie Chaplin bent over to gather up a few more balls for another round. Hoots of laugher ensued, including from the much put-upon Donadoni, which suggests that it’s the usual Italian kidology for the outside world: that everything is falling apart and the daggers are out for one and all.

Cassano also fell for the old superglue joke

The reality, as we have seen before, is usually very much the opposite and it’s all a ploy to lure everyone into a false sense of security. We've already seen that Italy don’t do catenaccio anymore but one thing you can never do is underestimate those Latin mind-games.

Prediction: Italy to beat Romania 2-0 and the Italian press still having something to complain about.