Daniele De Rossi believes the Italy defence is “the best in the world”.
Fielding the Juventus ‘BBC’ backline of Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, the Azzurri haven’t allowed a shot on Gigi Buffon’s goal in their first two games.
“The defence? I think it’s the best in the world, along with Buffon,” De Rossi told reporters in a Press conference.
“They’re the most complementary players you’ll find in international football, and they have the mindset to lead us players, even for those of us who already have that [mindset].
“My role? There’s not much to say, I play my role to the best of my abilities. I’m neither [Andrea] Pirlo or [Andres] Iniesta, though I get man-marked for 90 minutes so maybe I get mistaken for someone else.
“I know I have tactical defensive qualities, I try to let as few balls as possible get through to a defence which we know can fend for itself.”
Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane complimented Italy ahead of their meeting on Wednesday, but De Rossi urges caution.
“We remember Germany and Spain as winners because we saw them do it, it’s a bit soon.
“We’ve gone from great scepticism to high ambitions, we don’t want to drop our responsibilities, but we have to be realistic.
“Someone like Keane, who is all competitive spirit and intensity, can fall in love with a team like ours, for the aesthetes it tends to be Spain.
“You have to win to be remembered. If Leicester hadn’t won [the Premier League] they’d be remembered for a few years and then forgotten. The final victory makes a lot of difference.”
Finally, the Roma midfielder gave his opinion on Wednesday’s opponents.
“It could be a problem that they have a lot of motivation and there’s less for us,” De Rossi admitted.
“It shouldn’t be that way though. They’re a physical team who give everything. In 2012 they had nothing to play for, but still their fans cheered for 90 minutes.
“They’ll give even more now, and we can’t be unprepared, we don’t want to give any gifts. I didn’t see the game against Sweden, but we’ve watched some videos.
“They have a very strong and quick striker [Shane Long] and they’re a very physical side.”