Friday June 15 2012
Italy to change players – not shape

Italy boss Cesare Prandelli says he could make up to four changes to the team that will face the Republic of Ireland – but Daniele De Rossi will remain in a three-man defence.

Prandelli yesterday opted to field the same XI against Croatia who drew with Spain, but another 1-1 result followed.

There were suggestions that the team could now revert to a 4-3-1-2 system with De Rossi returning to midfield. Prandelli, however, has other ideas.

“The team believe in the 3-5-2 system with De Rossi at the back and a Coach must not go against the conviction of the group,” the tactician stated in this afternoon’s Press conference as Andrea Barzagli returned to training.

“At this stage, I’m not thinking about changing shape and putting De Rossi back in midfield. The assuredness of my players is our strength.

“We’ll need a fresh and lively team in our third game, therefore there will be three or four changes for the match.

“The decisions will be made not just by my own sensations, but also as a result of scientific results. Everyone will have fitness tests tomorrow.”

Italy will face Ireland in the knowledge that a win may not be enough for qualification should Spain and Croatia finish in a 2-2 draw or higher.

The Coach, however, is rejecting theories of a possible conspiracy and he also insists that the already eliminated Republic, bossed by Giovanni Trapattoni, will be fighting for victory.

“We have to do what we need to do. In my opinion, a 1-0 versus the Republic of Ireland will do because I believe that Spain will win.

“If we think about a Spanish draw with Croatia then there will be problems. The way Spain play football has become a trademark for them. They are a different side from the rest.

“Trapattoni will also do us no favours and that is only right. I’m not expecting a flat Ireland, they’ll want to win.”

Italy started yesterday’s game well, but they allowed Croatia back into the tie following a strong first half performance.

“We spoke to the squad this morning for over an hour,” Prandelli stated when asked about Thursday’s disappointing result.

“The drop in our physical condition was not clamorous. But we did drop 20 metres too deep during the game.

“We have to play the game and not speculate over the result. We start to become fearful when we look to defend the result. It’s a mental issue, not physical.

“But I have no time to have regrets. We have three days to improve on the good things we have already done.”

One of Italy’s main problems revolve around their attacking department and Prandelli’s offensive choices are now starting to be questioned.

“I’m convinced that the attackers we selected in the squad are the best for the way we want to play,” the former Fiorentina tactician explained.

“We’ll look to get more players into the penalty area. We created a lot of chances against Croatia, but we need to be nastier in front of goal.

“Antonio Di Natale makes more of a difference when he comes on during games.

“Fabio Borini is a wide player, but with 10 minutes left against Croatia I needed a goal and I went for Sebastian Giovinco who has scored a lot this season.”

Prandelli also insisted that he still believes in Mario Balotelli despite taking him off for the second consecutive Euro 2012 encounter yesterday.

“We are not abandoning Balotelli,” the Coach insisted. “Had that happened then he wouldn’t have started against Croatia.

“He has great potential and he needs to grow. We expect a  great reaction from him. How long must we wait for him to help us? Three days…”