Saturday February 18 2012
Prandelli: '2012 is Italy's year'

Cesare Prandelli believes 2012 is Italian football’s year with the Champions League and European Championships, but how would he solve Inter’s woes?

There are three Italian sides in the last 16 of Europe’s top club competition, as Milan beat Arsenal 4-0 while next week Napoli face Chelsea and Inter visit Olympique Marseille.

“In a one-off game, Napoli can beat anyone,” said Prandelli. “Nowadays all clubs would prefer to avoid taking on Walter Mazzarri’s men in a decisive match.

“I am confident all three Italians will go through to the quarter-finals. Milan have practically booked their ticket with that 4-0 victory over Arsenal.

“Inter are going through a strange season of highs and lows. At the moment it is difficult for them, but they have the players to rise up again. They need to push back with the pride of their champions.”

This year also sees Euro 2012 and Prandelli’s Italy qualified unbeaten, although they face Spain, Croatia and the Republic of Ireland in the first round.

“We’ll see what happens, but it’s not easy, as we have Spain in our group. We hope to get back some key players like Giuseppe Rossi, who is recovering well from his operation.

“As for Mario Balotelli, he is only 21 and we must allow him to mature. Unfortunately, in Italy players are not given that time to grow. If you score a goal, you’re a champion and have to be on the front page. A week later you make a mistake and the same papers say you’re immature. It’s difficult to deal with the psychological pressure in Italy.”

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