Andrea Barzagli told UEFA.com he has overcome his fitness battle and is hoping to give Italy a shot at reaching the quarter-finals by helping them win their final Group C game.
Article top media content
Andrea Barzagli said he "feared the worst" when he sustained an injury in Italy's final friendly before UEFA EURO 2012, but after recovering from his calf strain the defender told UEFA.com that he is hopeful of starting against the Republic of Ireland in the Azzurri's last Group C match and confident that "if we play well we'll get the desired result".
UEFA.com: How is your recovery coming along? Will you be available for selection against the Republic of Ireland?
Andrea Barzagli: Yes, I think so. Today, for the first time, I trained with the whole team – it was a full training session. I'm happy to be fit now and hoping to be in the lineup.
UEFA.com: Was there a moment when you thought you were not going to make it – maybe when Davide Astori arrived as emergency back-up? Or were you always confident of playing?
Barzagli: Well, it wasn't when Astori arrived that I felt that, because at that point I was already recovering and I felt fit. I perhaps feared the worst immediately after the injury, because it seemed worse than it really was. In the end it wasn't too bad, so I was confident of playing.
UEFA.com: Looking on from the stands, what was your opinion of Italy's 1-1 draw with Croatia?
Barzagli: We played well – we deserved to win. We were under quite a lot of pressure for 20 minutes after they pulled a goal back, and that's something that we need to work on. But based on all the chances we had and on everything we did during the game, we deserved to win.
UEFA.com: You need to defeat the Republic of Ireland at all costs, but that might not be enough. Is that a worrying thought?
Barzagli: We need to win against Ireland first and foremost. We need to win against Ireland, to play well and to show that we have truly arrived. At the end of the game we'll then have to see what the other result is. But before that we must concentrate on our own game.
UEFA.com: Can this Italy team score three goals against the Republic of Ireland, which, after all, could be a necessity?
Barzagli: We have the potential to score three goals as we have great forwards. They can play well and get a feel for the goal. When you don't score or when you're losing, it's a problem the whole team has to try and deal with. We have to help [the strikers], we have to create chances and get the ball near the goal. The rest of the team will have to help a lot.
UEFA.com: Giovanni Trapattoni is a coach who knows Italy and Italian football very well. How great a threat is he?
Barzagli: We all know Trapattoni's history, and he knows us well. He will, of course, try and play a good game of football, he has to for his team's supporters. It won't be easy, but we need to push forward and try to win.
UEFA.com: Lastly, what do you have to fear against a Republic of Ireland side who have already been knocked out of the competition?
Barzagli: They will want to show the world that they should be playing in this tournament, so we need to concentrate. Yet, if we play well, we'll get the desired result.