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Cesare Prandelli was left at a loss after his Italy side suffered a dip in energy levels in surrendering their lead against Croatia, whose coach Slaven Bilić credited a tactical switch and a calm team talk at half-time for resurrecting his side in the UEFA EURO 2012 Group C tie in Poznan.
Cesare Prandelli, Italy coach
No I'm not angry.
Of course we are a bit annoyed because a side that plays football and creates chances needs to kill off the game. Football is rather unique in that way, because just one cross can ruin everything you have built up over the course of a game, so we have a lot of regrets. However, we are still in this – we still think we can get through, we are mathematically still in it, but we have missed an opportunity here.
When you're on top in a game and have territorial supremacy, you need to kill the game off, because if you don't, all that it takes is a cross or a deflection and it can ruin all you have done. You need to have more determination and be a bit more clinical when you get a sight of goal. We can analyse it as much as we want, but we played against a very physical side, who are great competitors. But we were better than they are in footballing terms, so if you don't kill it off, of course you will have regrets.
I don't think we lack character – but there has been a drop in our game from 60 minutes for the last two matches and we need to weigh up our next match and see how we manage our energy levels. After that ten-minute dip we created plenty of chances, but in that phase of the game we did need fresh legs.
For the first 60 minutes we were very well organised – we did not leave much space between our forwards and defenders – but when the game gets stretched and there is more distance between the strikers and the defenders, then we start to struggle. We have four days now, all we have to do is rest up. Then we need to stretch the team more so we don't have that dip.
Slaven Bilić, Croatia coach
It is not easy when you are up against a big team, but we were waiting for our chance. They were better than us in the first half – we were lacking patience and trying to shoot from outside the box. I told them at half-time that we needed to be more aggressive and have more possession. We changed things tactically so Mario Mandžukić was playing deeper and we moved Luka Modrić out to the wing and we were dominant after that.
I don't want to talk about our next match against Spain. We have loads of time to analyse them, but after two matches this is a really good situation; four points and I am really optimistic about the next game and the whole tournament. Six points would have been even better, but this is pretty good.
The whole nation was not expecting this and we still have a chance to go through this very difficult group, so it is a phenomenal success.
Italy are not as fit as us and they knew it. Our problem is different, because we are not as strong mentally as teams like Germany or Italy. We need to improve on this, and we are working hard to do that. You can see the result and we can prepare for Spain now.
I work a lot with my players. I meet a lot of coaches and visit a lot of training camps. Yes, I am young but I want to transmit positive energy to my players. It is not easy on the touchline. We are very emotional people as a nation and it wouldn't help if I screamed and shouted at my players at half-time – we just had to be calm and make a few corrections, and that is what we did.
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