Italy needs to win tonight (as does Romania, as does France. As do the Netherlands – who will be looking to continue their spectacular form against a talented but underperforming team of Les Bleus.)

But who cares about thos other guys? Not me.

For Italy tonight has everything on the line. Will they crash and burn? Or will they rise up to the challenge of their riii-vaal?

My guess, and hope, is for the latter.

If the reports in Italian sportsmedia are to be believed then there will be a number of (deseperately needed) changes in the Italian line-up. They basically consist of getting the shitty out-of-form players out of the XI and replacing them with fiercely talented and fierce Romanisti.

At least expect to see Marco Matterazzi and (hopefully) Barzagli out for Grosso, with Panucci moved into central defending duties with Chiellini. Zambrotta and Grosso will be playing wingbacks.

This should provide a solid central pairing, in which Old Man Panucci’s lack of speed will be offset by great positioning and ball-winning ability. And there will be persistent counter-attacking anger on the flanks.

In the mid-field there will be changes, with Ambrosini taking his much deserved place on the bench, and De Rossi stepping in. Word. That guy is Leaky-D-B-Gone, and can distro attack balls and deliver long-range cannons as well.

Perrotta may also be in and Gattuso out. I’ll miss Gattuso, but Perrotta will be everywhere at once.

Up front, Pirlo behind the attacking duo of Toni and Del Piero. I forget who the other mid-fielder will be: surprise me.

Viewed from every angle and taking into account the shifts Donadoni may feel inclined to make, this is still a team that will fuck you up.

I have deep confidence and high-hopes, but Romania will be no pushover, and if Italy does not win, they will take this embarrassment home far to early, and then be attacked by violent fans and media for the rest of the summer.

It’s go-time.