Saturday June 9 2012
Prandelli to 'prove pessimists wrong'

Cesare Prandelli insists “pessimism motivates Italy” to do better and drops more tactical hints for tomorrow’s clash with Spain.

The Azzurri begin their Euro 2012 campaign against reigning World and European champions Spain at 17.00 UK time on Sunday.

“I have a good feeling about this,” said the Coach in his press conference.

“We trained well and prepared for this match in the best possible way. The pessimism around us is not a problem, as in fact the team is more motivated to subvert it. We must be generous towards the team and the fans, giving our all.”

Italy are switching to 3-5-2 with Daniele De Rossi rediscovered as a centre-back, a role he occasionally played at Roma this season.

“De Rossi is certainly very convinced he can do this. We should wait for the game before making judgement on how he interprets the role, no?

“We tried some things that many might consider new, but they weren’t for us. We have the belief that during the game we can change our tactical approach.

“Every team prepares a match based on the characteristics of their players. If we work with synergy, then we can be competitive. Our objective is to ensure fewer Spanish players get near to our penalty area. If they crowd around us, then it means we’ve done something wrong.”

Andrea Barzagli is injured, but Giorgio Chiellini has shaken off a thigh strain to start and Riccardo Montolivo drops to the bench.

“Everyone must feel as if they are first choice picks. What I need is to have players ready who can use all the energy they’ve got.

“I slept well, feel great and am happy to be here. I hope our work can give us satisfying moments and I think it will.”

Italy have lost their last three friendly games, but were able to beat Spain 2-1 in a test in August 2011.

“There’s nothing left from that match, as football changes so quickly,” noted Prandelli. “We haven’t even bothered watching that game back, because it was so long ago, even if just a year. What it does prove is that when Italy play football, they can be competitive against Spain too.”

Prandelli was also asked about Mario Balotelli amid fears he could be subjected to racist abuse from the stands.

“If there is racism against Mario, I will step on to the pitch and embrace him. I ask him to be generous and give his all for the team and fans.

“He’s exuberant, as many lads of that age are, but he’s behaved very well up until now. If we all give our best, then whatever happens on the pitch we’ll know that we did what we could.”

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