Daniele De Rossi warns Italy to take it “one step at a time,” as their plans in the last World Cup went horribly wrong, and relives their last Euro meeting with Spain.
The Azzurri are in Group C along with Spain, Croatia and the Republic of Ireland.
“It’s impossible to make plans, especially as at the last World Cup we were talking about plans and nobody ever considered the idea we wouldn’t get through the group phase,” said the midfielder on the official UEFA website.
“We have to take it one step at a time. To consider these Euros as substantially positive, I think we need to reach at least the semi-final. Many things can alter a result there and change the game, which can happen.
“We certainly have to get past the first round and then play a great quarter-final, where we could face important teams like France or England.
“Italy have changed a great deal since the tournament in South Africa. Above all, the players are more experienced and grew over two years in qualifying, which made Italy more mature and aware of their abilities.”
The first game of the group is on Sunday afternoon against Spain.
“Facing them is important and also fascinating, because we are taking on the reigning world and European champions, the best in the world. Many of them play for Barcelona, who are the best club side in the world.
“Personally as a midfielder it is also a great test so I can improve and see what level I am at, seeing as I’m taking on the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets and Xabi Alonso.”
When Spain won Euro 2008, they only managed to squeeze past Italy on penalties.
“Spain have improved a great deal since that match in Vienna. In fact, I think from that game they found the strength to go forward and win that tournament,” continued De Rossi.
“We were on a par with them; they had a lot of possession, but not that many chances. We only lost on penalties. That was a cursed Euros for us, as we started badly and were really growing, but met with an extremely strong opponent. I think if we had won those spot-kicks, we would’ve gone on to win the Euros.”
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition  - £11,000 to be won monthly!