Wednesday April 30 2014
‘England won’t be decisive, but…’

Cesare Prandelli has warned that Italy face at the World Cup an ‘important’ match against a stronger England than from Euro 2012.

The Azzurri will open their Group D campaign against Roy Hodgson’s men in Manaus on June 14 in a fixture being billed already as a potential play-off for advancement to the knockout stages of the competition.

“The English are strong, stronger than at the European Championships because they have included young people of quality and running,” Prandelli has considered on the game to the Corriere della Sera.

“In addition, the first match directs the group and whilst this may not be decisive, it is at least very important.

“And then Costa Rica and Uruguay? The group is tough, but it is better that way. Costa Rica, I say this from the day of the draw, will surprise us.

“No-one takes them into account and yet we will all have to deal with them. But I am happy. For as we are, it is better to be thinking about the group rather than that we are already in the semi-finals.”

Italy’s training camp in Brazil will be based at Mangaratiba.

“You want to know the truth? I asked Scolari and he suggested that area. The place was optioned by Germany, but we picked up that they would go somewhere else, and then we took it ourselves.

“I want to take advantage of the training and avoid keeping the players in the coach for hours.

“A World Cup can be won with the details. And we want to do everything right.”

Prandelli, who also discussed Mario Balotelli’s place in his plans and the chances the likes of Francesco Totti and Antonio Cassano have this summer, is in agreement with the FIGC over extending his contract with Italy to June 2016.

“There is talk of being a ‘commissario unico’ and many things that do not correspond with the truth. For now I have just given my availability and with [FIGC President Giancarlo] Abete we have not addressed the details, nor even the economic aspects.

“The future, however, is in the youth sectors. The statistics speak clearly - up to 19-20 years, we are quite competitive, then there is a kind of void.

“We have to understand how to solve the problem.”

Prandelli was asked about the Italian League and how it compares to others in Europe.

“We have done a lot of thinking, but the confirmation of our thoughts has come from a talk with Carlo Ancelotti in Madrid.

“He has coached everywhere and he said one thing that is a great truth - the Italians, when we go on to the field, we have already played three games, and after the game itself we are destroyed.

“The British do not have these problems and always play, in France there is enough pressure, but they do not overdo it, the Spaniards have the joy of play and do not struggle to recover.

“This means that the stress is too great for us.

“Juve are extraordinary though? Not only Juve. The top four teams are well characterised, with a precise identity.

“Roma may already be thinking ahead to evolution in football, with strikers who know what to do without having a particular role.

“Napoli have acquired a European dimension and it is no coincidence that they had a great first round in the Champions League and then encountered difficulties in the League.