Thursday March 24 2011
Prandelli defends A-Class Italy

Cesare Prandelli has defended his Italy team – on the eve of their Slovenia qualifier – from claims that they are a Serie B national side.

Despite a dynamic display in last month's 1-1 friendly with Germany, the Azzurri still have their critics after a disastrous 2010 World Cup.

"If some people consider our level to be Serie B then it means that they will soon have to take note of our promotion to Serie A," the tactician stated.

"I'm proud of this national side. If someone like Gigi Buffon, who in the past chose an experience in Serie B, believes in this team then it means that he knows how much it can grow.

"We are aware of our difficulties right now and we are looking to renew the team. The only road that is open to us is that of the youngsters.

"That is how we are moving, but taking this path means that results won't be immediate. We are, however, Italy and our results have to be of a high standard."

Italy are currently top of Euro 2012 qualifying Group C, three points ahead of Slovenia – a country they have never beaten away from home.

"We're playing a Slovenia side who are very motivated, have great enthusiasm, are compact and have great technique – especially in attack.

"This is an important game in our qualifying march, but we know that we can play a great tie, as we did against Germany."

Training sessions this week have made it clear what side Prandelli will start with, a fact he didn't hide.

"The line-up is the one that you already know, there may just be a few positional changes. I hope to see a courageous side which is organised, that can press and counter."

Antonio Cassano will start in attack, of what is expected to be a 4-3-1-2, and Prandelli was keen to dismiss rumours that the player is on edge after his comportment at Coverciano this week.

"He's not irritable, he's just feeling the importance of the game like all of us," the tactician continued.

"He needs to give more to this side, but he doesn't need to overdo it.

"I told him that he is not responsible for anything apart from his game. He just needs to take advantage of his ability in one on one situations."

Italy probable v Slovenia: Buffon; Maggio, Bonucci, Chiellini, Balzaretti; Aquilani, Thiago Motta, Montolivo; Mauri; Cassano, Pazzini

The game can be seen live in the UK on ITV4.