Italy manager Cesare Prandelli is determined to guide his side to their first – and absolutely mandatory – Euro 2012 win over the Republic of Ireland but he is aware that the opposition’s national pride is a massive hurdle.
The Irish were eliminated from the competition following their 4-0 loss to defending champions Spain on Thursday but they can yet play a key role in deciding who progresses to the quarterfinals from Group C.
Spain and Croatia – who meet in the other Group C match tomorrow – currently occupy the top two spots with six and four points, respectively.
Third-place Italy, meanwhile, are stuck on two points after two consecutive 1-1 draws against the Spaniards and the Croatians, thus setting them up for a must-win battle with the Irish.
Prandelli has been open about attributing his side’s disappointment against Croatia due to a rare moment of bad luck but he is optimistic about the difficult yet exciting group decider today.
“It’s a side we need to be wary of – they have a lot of national pride,” Prandelli stated about the Irish.
But in the same vein, he added: “I’m sure we have the means at our disposal to go and win it. I think we played very well against Croatia.”
When asked if he is apprehensive about having his team play a more open brand of football than usual, the coach was defiant.
“You need to go out and earn your luck and you do that by playing expansive football. You don’t pluck decisions out of the air. You always consider these choices and think about them very clearly. The actual way you play needs to be very flexible,” the Azzurri boss concluded.