Claudio Marchisio has told Euro 2012 opponents Spain that Italy will have no fear going into their June 10 clash.
The two countries have been placed into Group C, along with Croatia and Giovanni Trapattoni’s Republic of Ireland.
“Today Spain are the champions at every thing, but I don’t think they are that far ahead of us,” the Juventus ace told the Gazzetta dello Sport.
“We are not afraid of them and we have what we need in all departments of the team to go all the way.
“We too have players in midfield to be scared of. Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi have won a World Cup, Thiago Motta and myself have tasted the highest levels over the last few years, generating the necessary experience in the process. Then we have Riccardo Montolivo and Antonio Nocerino.”
Italy impressed during qualification with their possession play, but they do seemingly have problems in attack.
However, the midfielder is convinced that both Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli, his former colleague at Under-21 level, can shine.
“Cassano is a certainty and he has the backing of the entire squad,” the 26-year-old continued.
“Balotelli knows that he can make the difference at any minute and he is aware that this is a crucial stage of his career.
“I’m not interested in what he does away from the pitch, that is his business. I expect the European Championship to be his consecration. He has incredible skills and he needs to put those at the disposal of the team and the Italian shirt.”
The Italian national team were heavily criticised after their disastrous showing in South Africa, but Coach Cesare Prandelli has been able to get the side back on track.
“In two years Prandelli has cancelled the insecurities that we had after World Cup 2010.
“He’s given enthusiasm and results back to the side. He’s also brought in a number of new things in terms of players and the philosophy of our football.
“There are also youngsters coming through who are pushing us forward. I think our game is in good health and there are reasons to be optimistic about the future.”
Marchisio also used the interview to try and bring an end to the constant comparisons with Juve and Italy legend Marco Tardelli.
“I’ve always been honoured by the comparison with one of the greats of the world game, but I think the time has arrived that we only talk about Marchisio. Enough of the ‘Tardellino’ statements, now I want to write my own story.
“I am old enough and mature enough to perhaps be seen as a reference point for younger players. Or I hope to soon become one.”