Gianluigi Buffon believes Italy and England “want to recapture the prestige that has been lost in recent years” during Sunday’s Euro 2012 quarter-final clash.
“I remember the game in Italia 90 and some qualifiers, but I only ever faced England in two friendlies and we won both,” said the goalkeeper in today’s Press conference.
“I’ve never played them in an important match before. I hope there will be more occasions, but I above all hope we win this one.
“Italy have the ability to make every game balanced so it is then decided by incidents. That can be a positive or a negative, as we do it against stronger or weaker teams. We have a 50 per cent chance of winning.
“Both Italy and England are looking for confirmation of form and want to recapture the prestige that has been lost in recent years.
“Did we qualify with difficulty? No, we were always totally relaxed. Besides, we’re accustomed to dealing with difficulties.
“When we started this journey two years ago, the idea was to make up for South Africa. Our objective was to amaze and make ourselves and our fans proud. We hope to be up to the task.”
Joe Hart said he was studying Italy’s penalty takers in case the Euro 2012 quarter-final goes beyond extra time.
“I haven’t prepared yet, but tonight I and my teammates will try to study them on video. I’ve no idea how Hart will prepare,” noted Buffon.
“Wayne Rooney has charisma and is a leader, dragging the team along with him, while John Terry, Steven Gerrard and Ashley Cole are all players who know how to win.
“I like Antonio Cassano’s extravagant way of expressing himself and of dealing with his teammates. He has leadership skills and at times that aspect is underestimated. He is an added value to this squad.”
The Azzurri dropped the 3-5-2 system and returned to a 4-2-3-1 for the 2-0 win over the Republic of Ireland, but it’s unclear what they will do against England.
“We have roots and traditions that brought us to lift the World Cup four times. Italy have certain characteristics, but also know how to adapt to their opponents.”
Buffon finally added that he will be cheering on Greece against Germany in tonight’s quarter-final.
“I always support the underdogs. It’s no coincidence I’ve been a Cameroon fan for years, so you can easily imagine who I’m supporting tonight.”
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £11,000 to be won monthly!