Italy’s Riccardo Montolivo admits the Azzurri will not start the World Cup as favourites but wants his team to be surprise packages in Brazil.
Speaking at a Press conference at the team’s pre-tournament training base in Coverciano, the 29-year-old stressed that a strong team ethic will be the only way Cesare Prandelli’s side can hope to cause an upset.
That being said, he also believes that Italy come into the competition better prepared than they were for Euro 2012, putting this down to the stability brought by having worked under the same Coach for a long period of time.
“Brazil, Spain and Germany are a step ahead of everyone else,” Montolivo told reporters. “But then there is a second group of teams and that is where Italy are. I really hope it can be us who are the surprise package.
“We are here and now we need to work to get to the deep end of the tournament – that is everyone’s dream.
“We will need to cause a surprise in order for that to happen. We are a strong team and if we play how we can we can cause problems for anyone.
“In respect to Euro 2012 we are better prepared, we have had four years working with the same Coach and as a result we are stronger.
“We have less star players of a top class level, but with a team attitude and spirit we can cause problems for anyone.
“Every player must put their body on the line for the team, even if it’s just for five minutes. In a World Cup, even a five minute period can be decisive.
“I think that in this training camp, everyone has come to understand that.”
Montolivo was also asked about the Azzurri’s minimum target in Brazil.
“The minimum target is to get through the Group Stage and get as far as we can. We have a tough group and the first match against England will be important. It will be very finely poised.
“We need to start again in respect to four years ago. I hope it can be a different World Cup, a magical World Cup.
“We are playing in the homeland of football, so the tournament will have a special flavour. But that will depend on our results.”
Finally, the former Fiorentina man commented on the decision to allow the players’ families to visit Coverciano.
“It can be positive in terms of relieving some tension. I am not one of those who believes in total isolation and I think it’s nice to be able to spend some time with your loved ones.”