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Prandelli determined to exorcise Italy fears

Cesare Prandelli defended Italy's open style ahead of their decisive game with the Republic of Ireland, claiming his side have "a thousand fears when they try to protect a result".

Cesare Prandelli addresses the assembled media on Friday
Cesare Prandelli addresses the assembled media on Friday ©Getty Images

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli gave an impassioned defence of his side's playing style in his Friday press conference, insisting that their attractive approach is here to stay and that even a 1-0 victory against the Republic of Ireland on Monday would suffice.

"We must keep the faith," said the 54-year-old. "The players believe in this way of playing and a coach shouldn't go against that. As long as we play football we are a good side. So long as we try to take supremacy in midfield we are a good side, but if we try to protect a result we become a side with a thousand fears."

Italy's second successive 1-1 draw has left them in third place on two points, two behind Spain and Croatia, who meet on Monday, when the Azzurri take on Giovanni Trapattoni's Irish. While some journalists attributed Italy's concession of an equaliser against Croatia to second-half tiredness, Prandelli instead explained it as a mental rather than a physical problem that cost his side victory in Poznan.

"There was no physical drop in the last half-hour against Croatia," he said. "What we did was drop too deep. We subconsciously thought we could protect our lead, but got caught out doing that and that is a mentality we need to change. We can play progressive football. This is a good team, a very good team. Obviously we must defend well but we cannot afford to be overly defensive. The best example I can give you of this is Juventus, who won Serie A playing this way. That is the direction we must take.

"I don't know what the future will hold if we don't try and change. We must have courage to move on and take the game to the opposition. In Italy we have imagination and the desire to make things happen. We want to be creative."

The former ACF Fiorentina coach added that Andrea Barzagli, who trained with the squad for the first time today, is expected to be fit for Monday after recovering from a calf strain. Prandelli added that he was considering changing "three or four players at most" for the decisive encounter with the Irish. "All we can do is try and get more players into the penalty area and create more chances, as we did yesterday," he added. "But whoever gets a chance to score must be clinical in front of goal."

Though Spain and Croatia would both go through with a 2-2 draw regardless of Italy's result, Prandelli thinks the title holders know only one approach. "In the last few years they have broken new ground in terms of the way football should be played," he said. "They play entertaining, fascinating football and have become world and European champions by doing so.

"They don't think about the result. They only ever think about playing football the right way, which in turn attains results. They are the example that everyone is trying to follow."