x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Euro 2012: Prandelli backs Italy despite Group C carve-up fears

Cesare Prandelli insists Italy are unfazed by talk of a possible "biscotto" between Spain and Croatia as he prepares his side for their final Group C match against Ireland.

Cesare Prandelli, bottom left, watches his Italy players take part in a training session yesterday in Krakow, Poland. Geert Vanden Wijngaert / AP Photo
Cesare Prandelli, bottom left, watches his Italy players take part in a training session yesterday in Krakow, Poland. Geert Vanden Wijngaert / AP Photo

POZNAN // Cesare Prandelli insists Italy are unfazed by talk of a possible "biscotto" between Spain and Croatia as he prepares his side for their final Group C match against Ireland.

If the Spain-Croatia match finishes in a score draw of 2-2 or above, Italy will definitely be going home early from Euro 2012.

The talk back home in Italy has been largely about the possibility of those two arranging such a result - known as a biscotto, or biscuit in Italian - as it would guarantee both their passages to the last eight.

It is something Italy believed they were the victims of eight years ago when Sweden and Denmark drew 2-2 in their final match to knock the Italians out on head-to-head records. But Prandelli said this is something created by the media and that his players are fully focused on the job at hand.

"I said the same thing three days ago, it depends on us, we have to prepare for this match and think only about our result," said Prandelli. "What the media has been saying has not disturbed us, we're totally concentrated on this game.

"Spain's image is based totally on their attractive style of play, on the spectacle and on having fun and it's impossible for them to consider fixing a match. We're thinking only about the difficulties we'll face tomorrow but I'm also sure we've got the skills to win it."

Meanwhile, Giovanni Trapattoni, the Ireland manager, hit back angrily at Roy Keane's latest criticism of the team.

The former Ireland captain wrote in his column for a British tabloid that he would change the entire starting XI for tonight's match.

Keane - who walked out on the team in their pre-2002 World Cup finals training camp complaining of a lack of professionalism - has been critical of his homeland's poor showings at the Euros. But Trapattoni was having none of it.

"I have already said that Keane was a great player and had great results but I don't know if he has achieved the same results as a coach and manager. I can ask him why but an intelligent man can understand why," said Trapattoni in English before turning to his countrymen and firing off an angry broadside in Italian. "What has he won [as a coach], he's done nothing!"

Trapattoni said he would stick to the same line-up as their previous two matches. As Ireland are already out, Trapattoni said they have only pride to play for: "We all have a duty to do the best we can because obviously we don't want to go home with another defeat."

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