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Prandelli tells Italy to be bold against England

Cesare Prandelli asked Italy to play "without fear" against England, whose manager Roy Hodgson wants his side to take the quarter-final in Kyiv "by the scruff of the neck".

Pirlo: My EURO memory

Cesare Prandelli has told Italy they must play "without fear" to overcome England in the final UEFA EURO 2012 quarter-final in Kyiv.

"England are a very tough side and we must go into the game without fear – no psychological hang-ups," said Prandelli. "We must stay focused and wait for our opportunity. We've watched England's previous games and they're one of the most organised European sides. We need to make sure we stop them playing. They're going to produce a high tempo and put their foot in a lot, so if we can set the tempo then we can do well."

The teams have not met since a 2-1 Italy win in Leeds in March 2002, but both coaches are only too aware of the challenges their opponents pose. Roy Hodgson is unbeaten in five matches since taking charge of England last month while Prandelli's side qualified unbeaten, although the victory against the Republic of Ireland which secured second place in Group C ended a five-game winless run and represented their first final tournament triumph in seven attempts.

Former FC Internazionale Milano and Udinese Calcio coach Hodgson knows Italian football well, but refuted the suggestion that England's current approach has parallels with the defence-first ethos once prevalent in Serie A. His priority against Italy will be getting England to dictate the pace of the game. "We're very impressed by Italy, like everyone is," he said. "Prandelli's done a very good job – they've got a lovely mix of youth and experience and a lot of athleticism. We need to take the game by the scruff of the neck because if Italy have the chance to control it, it could be a very long night for us."

England are likely to be unchanged from the team that clinched first place in Group D with a 1-0 win against Ukraine, while there is mixed news on the hamstring front for Prandelli. Giorgio Chiellini is out and will be replaced by his Juventus club-mate Leonardo Bonucci, although Thiago Motta has trained with the squad despite a similar problem.

A meeting with Germany in Warsaw on Thursday awaits the winners in Kyiv, with Italy aiming to reach the semi-finals for the fourth time while a last-four appearance would be England's third. "I really believe we are coming into this at the right time," said Prandelli. "We're not the strongest side in the tournament but we're very determined. Over the last few years we've tried to change how we play; we've done well so far but now we want to win these big games. We only need a little bit to make that leap in quality."

England have lost four of the sides' six competitive meetings, winning only one. When it was put to him that the national side had consistently fallen short against the top nations since lifting the FIFA World Cup in 1966, Hodgson bristled. "It's a nasty statistic because it's very negative," he explained. "You don't change statistics by talking. You change them by winning."

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