Claudio Marchisio is cautiously optimistic for Italy in the face of playing Spain at the weekend, knocking down suggestions of a repeat of the last World Cup.
The Azzurri were eliminated in South Africa 2010 at the group stages after failing to win a single one of their Group F games.
However, in preparing to kick off 2012’s European Championships in Group C against the tournament’s favourites and defending champions Spain, midfielder Marchisio urges serenity and optimism.
“We are not afraid of anyone. We are Italy, a great country,” he declared to the Corriere dello Sport.
“We will face the champions of Europe who play the most beautiful football in the world. Last summer we stopped them playing that great game and we can play like that again.
“We should not worry about being eliminated at the group stages. We must work quietly, without fear, or else we shouldn’t take part. We should not fear what happened in the 2010 World Cup.”
The Azzurri go into the tournament in Poland and Ukraine in a slight sense of turmoil, with the backdrop of the betting scandal in Italy having seen Domenico Criscito dropped from the squad and Leonardo Bonucci and Gianluigi Buffon both mentioned in media reports.
“They are the first to be calm. Gigi’s character is famous, whilst Bonucci is a lot quieter, but they have both trained with tranquillity and transferred their calmness to the group.
“Then, we have all seen the support from the fans in Switzerland.
“It’s almost impossible not to talk about the scandal. What bothers me is that not everything in the world of football is like that. It is right that those who have done wrong will pay.
“Beyond this, we are great professionals and we all want to make a great effort to left the European Championships that Italy has only won once before.”
The Juventus man was asked if his Bianconero teammates and he can bring across their domestic success to the national team, and whether a shift to Juve’s preferred 3-5-2 tactic would also be of benefit.
“We can bring enthusiasm, many of us had not won before, we can bring this hunger to the national team. Also, Balotelli is a champion in England.
“Only the Coach will make the decision [on tactics]. It is true that some are accustomed to three at the back, but others have never played like that.”