Italy dismissed talk that Euro 2012 group C rivals Spain and Croatia will hatchet a plan to elimate the Azzurri. Italy must beat Ireland on Monday to reach the quater-finals but will be knocked out if Spain and Croatia draw 2-2.
AFP - 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 here.
If the Spain-Croatia match finishes in a a score draw of 2-2 or above on Monday, 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 victms 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 insists this is something created by the media and that his players are fully focussed 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 in any way, 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."
Ireland may have lost both their games so far, 3-1 to Croatia and then a heavy 4-0 reverse against Spain, and be already eliminated from the competition but Prandelli insists they should not be taken lightly.
"The difficulty is that obviously when you take away the tensions of (trying to qualify for the quarter-finals) they can play with freedom.
"They did lose 4-0 to Spain but after an hour it was just 1-0 and that shows they can fight and they know how to play.
"We will have to do well to control the tempo and not allow ourselves to be opened up.
"They're a team to fear because they have the pride of a nation, they have a great ability to resist but at the same time they want to look for the win to offer a gift to their fans.
"This is a particular game for us as it will be difficult to play."
Prandelli played a back three in the first two group games but is known to be considering switching to the back four he used throughout qualifying.
One reason he opted for a change in system was due to an injury to Juventus centre-back Andrea Barzagli but now that he is back and fit again, Prandelli is rumoured to be likely to revert to the tried and tested.
Prandelli refused to divulge which choice he will make but then became exasperated when asked by an Italian journalist why he was keeping his formation a secret.
"Sometimes it's strange to hear that I want to hide something. The system isn't so important, what's important is that everyone has heart, that they receive and give emotion.
"When the time to criticise comes then you can do so, but often we're criticised before we've even started."
Monday's match will pit Prandelli against his former coach during his days as a midfielder at Juventus, Giovanni Trapattoni.
Prandelli said that for him, Trapattoni will always be the boss.
"When I speak of Trapattoni, I speak of the boss, he will always be the boss.
"I had him in a special period of my career when I was 20 and I developed under him.
"He has amazing strength, he never gives up, he has the desire to always be competitive, for me he's an amazing man and boss."
Date created : 2012-06-18