Cesare Prandelli hinted Italy have been working on a return to 4-3-1-2 against Ireland for some time. “I don’t just wake up in the morning and change my mind.”
The Coach held his Press conference in Poznan ahead of the Monday evening encounter with the Republic of Ireland.
Naturally, the first question was about the Croatia-Spain debate dominating the lead-up to this match, as if that ends 2-2 then the Azzurri will be out.
“Three days ago I said that it all depended on us and we’d have to prepare this match only thinking about our own result. If the others are talking about it, that doesn’t disturb us, as we are concentrated on our own match,” said Prandelli.
“You already know what I think about the other game. It’s inconceivable that Spain, who based their image on entertainment, fair play and winning with spectacle can focus on playing for a draw. I say we have to think only of our own match and we have what it takes to win.”
Italy had adopted a 3-5-2 throughout Euro 2012, but in training yesterday tested out the 4-3-1-2 in a session behind closed doors.
“We hadn’t even finished the training session when the news was already out there. A team must be able to change and adapt both within a game and from match to match.
“I thought we could have a slight advantage. For example, against Spain for 15 minutes we had to search for documents on how to deal with their no-striker system. That is the idea, to make it difficult for your opponents, even for just 15-20 minutes.
“I like justifying my tactics and have never hidden myself from that. The way I see football, if we play with a three-man defence then Daniele De Rossi is in that defence. If De Rossi goes to the midfield, then we reconstruct the squad to give the strikers the right build-up.
“I never said Antonio Di Natale could only play for 45 minutes, but if he does start then we have to make sure we create plenty of scoring opportunities for him.
“We are not taking on the public opinion. I prepare the training sessions and the games to have an advantage during the match. It’s not a lack of respect for the fans or media. We are together.
“It is strange to hear people saying we’re trying to hide. The system is not as important as the heart and everyone pushing forward together to create emotional moments.
“We accept criticism, but too often we get criticised before we’ve even done anything! We haven’t chosen our system yet and are already getting criticised for it. I think we have what it takes to win.”
Mario Balotelli picked up an injury on Saturday, but appears to have shaken it off.
“Mario is much better than yesterday and we’ll see how he does in training today. If he trains, then he’ll certainly be available.
“I don’t make choices just for no reason when I wake up in the morning. When you choose certain players, you have to take into account the system. It must always be elastic, balanced and reasoned. That means picking the players who suit that system. Every time I make a choice, it is carefully pondered.
“We haven’t just been sleeping, woke up and decided to change three defenders. We have been working every day for a month!”
Prandelli was spotted outside the stadium embracing Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni and assistant Marco Tardelli.
“It’s wonderful to see Trapattoni and Tardelli. He said he’s tired of defending us and our problems! I wish we always had the same atmosphere before a big game.
“When I talk about Trapattoni, I talk about Il Mister. He will always be my Coach, as I was 20 when I worked with him and I grew up with this man. He has always respected everyone, as I was in a team of great champions and even if I didn’t play, I was considered important to him.
“He always puts himself back in the game, tests himself in new waters and is up for the challenge. Trapattoni is Il Mister.”
The Republic of Ireland have lost both their games so far, conceding in the opening five minutes.
“The more time passes, the greater tension is created in a match, as don’t forget Spain were only 1-0 up for an hour against them. Ireland play long balls, are good in the air and on set plays, so we must be wary of those issues.
“I never give specific names on which opponents I am most worried about. I did it to begin with and received messages from other players who complained they weren’t included! Ireland are a great side and very proud, who have the grit to keep pushing even under pressure. This is a difficult game for us.
“In all honesty, I am surprised Ireland are already out, but they were very unlucky against Croatia. We can see they prepared with a certain tactic, but by conceding so early they were no longer able to adjust to the new situation.
“It is the most important match of my management career. The team has trained more than well and we’re all aware that it only depends on us. We’ve been comforted by the fitness tests, we’re in good shape and can therefore raise the tempo to run for 90 minutes.
“For 60 minutes we played good attacking football against Croatia, creating six or seven scoring opportunities, which not many teams have done. You have to fight to find your own luck by pushing forward and sooner or later we will get the ball in the net.”
Italy can go out, but they can also still finish top of Group C depending on goal difference.
“Of course we’d love to score more goals and push for the top spot, but the important thing is to get the points. After that, we know that we need to score goals.
“We maintained the lead against Croatia by playing in a certain way. Once we tried to control the lead, we had problems. Spain pushed us back and so that was not our intention to defend the goal.”
The Italy Coach was asked what will happen if the Nazionale go out in the group phase of Euro 2012, especially if they fail to get a win.
“If it goes badly, then of course we’ll take responsibility and later on analyse why it went wrong. At this moment we’re not thinking about anything that can affect tomorrow’s game. I am convinced a football match should be discussed in a calmer fashion, taking down some of the tension. It remains a football game. It should be about joy rather than a climate of tension.
“Let’s not go forward to what might happen and potential disasters. Let us play and then we’ll see what happens! We Italians always want to be in front and see what happens next, but as I tell my players, if you rush ahead then sometimes you slip up.
“What will I do after the tournament? We’ll see when we get there.”