Giovanni Trapattoni will be facing his past in more ways than one when his Ireland squad meets his native Italy on Monday at the European Championship.
Eight years ago, Trapattoni led the Azzurri, and some of the players he coached at the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2004 are still with Italy. Going even further back, current Italy coach Cesare Prandelli played for Trapattoni at Juventus 30 years ago.
Perhaps that's why Trapattoni fell into a reflective mood Sunday, when asked if there was any extra motivation facing Italy.
"The Trap" says there's no measure of revenge, and that his recent jobs in Portugal, Germany, Austria and Ireland were "by my own choice," adding that in Italy, "they want everything immediately."
Balotelli ready to go?
Italy forward Mario Balotelli is back in training and appears to have recovered from a right knee injury, making him available for Monday's match against Ireland.
Moments before Sunday's training session, coach Prandelli said Balotelli is "much better," adding that "if he trains, then he'll be available."
The 21-year-old striker had to abandon training Saturday because of what the Italian football federation said was "a minor right knee problem."
Balotelli has often been bothered by right knee problems. He had meniscus surgery on that knee in September 2010 and was out for two months.
Antonio Di Natale replaced Balotelli in the second half of Italy's opening two matches, 1-1 draws with Spain and Croatia, and scored against Spain.
Duff achievement dampened
With Ireland already eliminated after two weak defeats, Damien Duff's 100th appearance for his country will be something of an anticlimax.
That's a shame for the winger, who will take the captain's armband against Italy on Monday in recognition of the sterling service he has given the Irish for more than 14 years.
But it's also a reminder of how a talented group of players including Duff, striker Robbie Keane, goalkeeper Shay Given, and defenders Richard Dunne and John O'Shea has failed to shine as brightly as once hoped.