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After an encouraging opening draw with European champions Spain, Cesare Prandelli has said Italy are now ready to go on the attack when they meet Croatia in Poznan in UEFA EURO 2012 Group C.
Beset by injury problems in defence, Prandelli was forced to play midfielder Daniele De Rossi at centre-back in their first game against Spain and described the 1-1 draw as "a great result". Now, though, he wants his team to take all three points. "Tomorrow we need to go out and win the game," he said. "Against Spain, every side tries to go out and contain them."
Victory may be the goal, but Prandelli is not taking Croatia – 3-1 winners against the Republic of Ireland on Sunday – lightly. "They are very well organised and like to play high up the pitch," he said. "They are also adept at changing their formation during a game. We've followed them for a while – they're a completely different side to Spain. We have the class to win the game."
Prandelli said he had still not decided whether to make any changes, saying "I've got one idea in my mind", but is confident his team can adapt depending on how the game pans out – especially now they can utilise De Rossi's new-found flexibility. "We've tried two different systems. Daniele gives us something extra depending on how the game is going.
What's important is that the boys have been very willing and open to my ideas and it's great to have those foundations to build on."
Many observers consider the game could be won and lost in the midfield battle between Andrea Pirlo and Luka Modrić. Slaven Bilić suggested both were capable of dictating how the contest developed. "If they play well, then their team plays well," the Croatia coach said.
Prandelli – who said he would use his allocation of three substitutions – is more concerned with how his team plays across the park. "This is a game where we need high concentration and to look after the small details as it could be a very even affair," the 54-year-old said. "We need to read the game well. We've got to go and dictate our game – and do so with the most determination possible."
For his part, Bilić said Croatia were enjoying a golden spell and should aim to make the most of it. "
Personally, I feel lucky to coach this generation of players," he said. "This group has a great team spirit – they play all around Europe but they keep in contact and this is important for a good team." He also wants Croatia to maintain their attack-minded approach. "Italy are a team who you can't play for a draw against. We have to be solid, compact and aggressive to stop them."
The Vatreni have a superb record against Italy, having not lost in five encounters. Victory would confirm Croatia's place in the last eight with a pool game to spare, yet Bilić says past results are irrelevant. "It doesn't mean anything for this match," he added. "They play in a different way to the Italy of the past. It looks good on paper but doesn't mean a lot. We aren't thinking about that – we have to have faith in how strong we are."
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