Cesare Prandelli refused to give clues as to Italy’s system or players in the Euro 2012 quarter-final with England. “I have no tactical doubts.”
The Azzurri are unbeaten so far in the tournament with two draws and a win, but face Roy Hodgson’s side on Sunday night.
“We prepared watching the tapes of England’s games and confirmed they are one of the most organised European teams, certainly compared to many others. They play within 38-39 metres and so we must do well to anticipate them.
“We must match their intensity, aggression and I’m convinced if we can find the right tempo then we can have a great performance.
“The team we are facing has players of great charisma, but are also very organised. For us it is a challenge against a great side and we want to play without fear, managing to maintain the right concentration for the full 90 minutes to find our chances. We’ve got to be in the game at all times.”
Prandelli would not be moved on who would be in the starting XI, including Mario Balotelli.
“I expect from Mario what I do from all the players, no matter how long they are on the field, that they have to be ready and focused. I say this because for the first time in two years I have left everyone the thought that they might play. That’s what I want.
“I am convinced we are finding the right movements and timing to attack the penalty area, creating some good chances against Ireland. I’m sure we have the right quality and the time has come to prove it.
“It is not a disadvantage that the England players know Balotelli. Will Balotelli play tomorrow? He’ll know an hour before the game.”
Thiago Motta is carrying an injury, leading to reports Riccardo Montolivo or Antonio Nocerino could start in midfield.
“Thiago Motta has a muscular problem, but trained with his teammates and is ready. There is nothing to be concerned about and I must compliment him for showing how much he wants to work for this team.”
Prandelli commented on the statistics that show Italy have covered more ground so far in Euro 2012 than England.
“We read the statistics too and analysed them differently. We have run more than England, but have to improve in terms of distributing our efforts around the field.
“I have no tactical doubts. Even the smallest advantages can create a few issues. I always remember the game with Spain, where we were not expecting that XI and for the first 10 minutes we had to work out what was going on and how they were set out.
“The same is true for opponents, as players can change marking or lose a sense of the certainty they had for a few days. I don’t see why we should give them an advantage.”
Gigi Buffon said this week that Italy are not the best team in Euro 2012.
“I agree with Gigi, we are not the best, but have the determination and hunger to bring Italy back to being the best. We’ve improved a great deal in recent weeks and so far are satisfied, but now must add on these big knockout matches against top teams.
“I think we need only a small step to make that climb up in quality.”