Thomas Dennerby has said his Sweden team will start Friday's UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ Group C game with Italy as if it were the tournament final, while in the Azzurre camp there is a determination to keep things in perspective following their 2-1 win over England. "We must not have our feet on the ground but under the ground," declared coach Pietro Ghedin.
The two teams have three points after Matchday 1 – Sweden having beaten Russia 3-0 – and both know that victory in Turku would book them a quarter-final place. Dennerby's proactive approach came in response to a suggestion that after beating Italy twice in qualifying and again in the 2008 Algarve Cup, his team will be confident of emerging triumphant again. "It's good for morale that we have that [recent record] but it's history," he said. "It starts tomorrow at 0-0 and we have to do the work in the 90 minutes. If we don't do that it's going to be tougher and tougher. We have to start tomorrow like it's the final."
Regardless of the head-to-head record, morale is high in the Swedish camp after the assured way they dispatched Russia in an opening fixture which has proved a burden in recent major tournaments. Deadly in front of goal and unyielding in defence, they have not conceded in their last nine games in the UEFA European Women's Championship, yet Dennerby believes they are set for a stiffer examination. "It's more difficult to defend against Italy [compared to Russia] because they have more options," he said. "Russia went for the long ball whereas Italy have several ways of attacking and in [Patrizia] Panico they have one of the best forwards in Europe."
'Normal to lose'
"There can be only one surprise tomorrow: if Italy win," countered Ghedin. "If we lose it's normal, if we draw it's OK – if we win it's a surprise." Above all, the Azzurre trainer has urged his charges to leave the field with their "heads held high". He said: "Then if we have won or lost it doesn't matter. We are also here to learn. We are low in the European rankings [seventh] while Sweden are second. Every year they raise their level, while we are improving slowly in small steps." The 56-year-old will wait until the morning to see if flu victim Pamela Conti can feature, having hopefully settled upon a tactical approach overnight. "Tactics? I don't know about tactics. Sometimes I have a dream and they come from there."
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