Saturday June 9 2012
Xavi: 'Italy don't do catenaccio'

Xavi Hernandez laughed off those who still think Italy play “catenaccio. It’ll be an entertaining spectacle” against Spain tomorrow.

“Italy has changed its system,” the midfielder told Marca and Adidas.

“Now the team wants to play the ball more with a packed midfield diamond and Andrea Pirlo is the outstanding player in that area of the pitch.

“They also have two great strikers like Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano. They no longer hold back like in the ‘catenaccio’ years.

“Now they try to play the ball and take the initiative, as they have the players for that. We are going to see an entertaining spectacle tomorrow. It’s not going to be one of those games in which they are closed up and Spain has the ball constantly.”

The other Group C contenders are Croatia and the Republic of Ireland.

“It will be complicated. Croatia are physical opponents who will squeeze us and lock down when we get the ball. The first game is key, especially as it’s against Italy.”

Kick-off in Gdansk is at 17.00 UK time on Sunday.