Despite acknowledging there is room for improvement from his side, midfielder Claudio Marchisio is confident Italy can reach the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter-finals by overcoming a "gritty" Republic of Ireland team.
Italy have won over many a neutral with their free-flowing football so far during this tournament but, ahead of their final Group C match, the Azzurri have yet to register a victory. Trailing pacesetters Spain and Croatia by two points, Italy need a win on Monday to stand any chance of reaching the last eight, a target Marchisio believes is well within their compass.
"The squad is united," he told UEFA.com. "We've got a great group here, even if we didn't manage to win against Spain or Croatia. We'll try to get through the group by giving it everything we've got.
Although we're third, we have a great chance of qualifying. We just need to worry about our own game and what we must do to beat Ireland."
Though Giovanni Trapattoni's side are not in contention for a place in the knockout stage, Marchisio knows they will be no pushovers. He was, after all, in the side beaten 2-0 by Ireland just over a year ago in a Liege friendly.
"It won't be an easy match, even if they are out already, because they are a very gritty side," said Marchisio. "We played them last summer and it didn't go well. That was a friendly match and our approach will be different this time, as will the result I hope."
While Italy have struggled to score, their play has been eye-catching. Marchisio has epitomised their high-tempo style with the sort of tireless performances that helped Juventus win the Serie A title this season, and which have made the 26-year-old the top Castrol EDGE Index performer in both of the Azzurri's matches.
"In the role of left midfield, or wing-back, you have to help out in defence and in building attacks to support the strikers," he explained. "You have to know how to conserve your energy, though, as you do a lot of running and it isn't easy to remain clear-headed when you find yourself in a scoring position or well placed to pass to a team-mate."
Marchisio was denied by Iker Casillas towards the end of Italy's draw with Spain and was twice thwarted by Stipe Pletikosa on Friday, but the man known as Tardellino (little Tardelli) – after former Italy and Bianconeri midfielder Marco Tardelli, now Trapattoni's assistant – has not been discouraged by his failure to find the net. "The fact I've had a few shots on goal gives me great confidence for the coming games. If I wasn't getting into the penalty area or having any shots on goal, then that would be a problem."
In order to triumph in Poznan, Marchisio believes Italy need to avoid dropping as deep as they did against Croatia. Any lapse, after all, will be punished by a side coached by one of the greatest tacticians of them all. "Trapattoni is a legend, not just of Italian but of world football. I've never been coached by him but he has achieved so many great things with many big clubs: Juventus, Inter and the national team.
"He has managed to bring his ideas and tactical knowledge to Ireland, who were struggling before he arrived. They missed out on qualifying for the World Cup by a whisker and made it this far, so he has done a great job."
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