Italy Coach Cesare Prandelli spoke about how “proud” he is to have changed the perception of calcio abroad with Euro 2012 and comments on Marco Verratti’s progress.
“I am proud to be told Italy have a quality of football rarely seen before, especially when said by people who analyse the statistics,” he told French site Zonemixte.fr.
“In Italy we are still so tied to the result, but we sent out a significant message that we can achieve a result via good football.
“We tried to give emotional moments and sensations to our fans and they appreciated that, even after losing the Final. Obviously, we play to win.”
The Azzurri are dominating their World Cup qualifying group, top with 10 points compared to Bulgaria’s six and the Czech Republic on three.
“Anyone who wears this jersey must not only have responsibility, but also feel proud and represent a model for all the kids who dream of the Azzurri shirt.
“We have done well to speed up the project, but now need to focus on qualification and not take it for granted. We’ve got to improve in terms of performances, as football is in a state of constant evolution.
“There are different expectations now, as it’s not enough to create 15 scoring opportunities – people want three goals per game too. The way of seeing this team has changed radically, as if we are already the finished product.”
Prandelli was asked about his tactical experiments and building on the midfield foundations set by the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio and Daniele De Rossi.
“A Coach must design a tactical system based on the players at his disposal. One cannot be rigid in these matters and ignore the characteristics of his squad. Our talent has been working with different tactical systems and that meant the players had fewer difficulties when the time came to change.
“When we started this adventure two years ago, we realised Italy had a very strong midfield and on top of those three had someone like Thiago Motta or Riccardo Montolivo. This is why we tried to build around that area of the side. We have many attacking midfielders who don’t give reference points.”
Verratti has quickly become a star in France with PSG, but rarely steps on to the field for the senior Italy side.
“The strange thing is that we’re happy no Italian clubs signed him, because that way the lad can gain international experience in France and the Champions League,” confessed Prandelli.
“He is a talent who perhaps should’ve been protected and dealt with differently. I am happy for him, as he has great character for someone so young. He can become one of the best midfielders in Europe, but he needs international experience first.
“Thiago Motta had a great Euro 2012 and some fitness problems, but right now I want to understand if there are other players ready for that role for the next two years.”
Prandelli started with De Rossi and Pablo Daniel Osvaldo after they were frozen out by Roma Coach Zdenek Zeman for not putting enough effort in, prompting both to provide performances and find the net.
“We often try to prick the pride of players to get the best out of them. They arrived ‘wounded’ and proved they were professionals, because Zeman levelled serious accusations at them.”
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £5,000 monthly.