Italy: when it works, it works
Daniele De Rossi: We mustn’t change what we’ve been doing for the last two years, that would be useless
WARSAW, Poland ● Daniele De Rossi says Italy will put their faith in their own style of play when they tackle the favoured Germans at the National Stadium here on Thursday in their Euro 2012 semi-final.
Italy hold the Indian sign over their opponents having never lost to Germany in seven competitive matches.
But Germany came into this tournament as the second favourites behind Spain and have shown in 15 straight victories in competitive games that they are formidable opponents for anyone.
Even so, De Rossi says it would be futile for Italy to try to adapt their style on a one-off occasion.
Italy have dominated possession in their last two games against Ireland and England and De Rossi believes that, although it will be tougher on Thursday, they have to go about things in much the same way.
“We mustn’t change what we’ve been doing for the last two years, that would be useless,” he said.
“We’re born to play in a certain way, we’ve grown in this way. We probably won’t dominate the ball like we did against England and Ireland because we’re playing against a better team, and their results demonstrate that.
“It will be a great game, it will be open but we can’t change our way of playing.”
Pirlo: Penalty was key to England defeat
Italy playmaker Andrea Pirlo believes his cheeky penalty changed the course of Sunday’s Euro 2012 quarter-final with England.
Roy Hodgson’s men had established a slender advantage after the first two kicks in the shoot-out when Pirlo strode up in Kiev. Instead of being a bag of nerves, the 33-year-old beat Joe Hart with an audacious ‘Panenka’ chip, named after the former Czech midfielder Antonin Panenka, who made it famous during the 1976 tournament.
Immediately afterwards, Ashley Young smacked his penalty against the bar to even things up, and once Ashley Cole had missed as well, Italy were on their way to the semis.
Of his penalty, Pirlo said: “It was really relevant to the match and our win. This changed the course of the match.”
He continued: “Hart seemed to be very confident in himself and I needed to do something to beat him. Penalties are a very personal thing and it seemed to be a psychological blow.”
Although their record against Germany is impressive, Italy are no strangers to starting out as underdogs.
They were as well six years ago when they beat Germany 2-0 in their own backyard in the World Cup semi-finals before going on to beat France on penalties in the final.
De Rossi was suspended for that semi, due to elbowing American forward Brian McBride in Italy’s second group game, but came on as a substitute in the final.
“Even though I didn’t play in that game in 2006 it was an epic evening against Germany,” he said.
“I can see similarities because even then they were favourites. Now we hope to make tomorrow’s another historic night.
“They’re the favourites but we won’t start a beaten team.”
De Rossi is not guaranteed to play as he is struggling with a number of niggling injuries, including a back problem.
But he says he will give everything to be fit in time for the match, as will defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Ignazio Abate, who were also doubtful for the game, although all three are now running again.
“I don’t just have a back problem, I also have other little niggles. But in games such as this everyone wants to be there at all costs, even though we can’t field 23 players.”
Andrea Pirlo had said on Tuesday that Germany are afraid of Italy but his coach Cesare Prandelli was not so brazen.
When asked how they would tackle a side that have won 15 matches in a row, are younger, bigger, stronger and faster, he smiled and joked: “We’ll just go home now then.
“It will be a great joy and satisfaction to play against them. We must play our own game but we’re very calm,” he added seriously.
“We have the desire to put into practice everything we’ve done up until now, it’s a fascinating challenge.
“It will be an open game no matter what the result but I don’t think they’re afraid, we’re playing a team convinced in their own abilities.”
Italy played a gruelling quarter-final that went to penalties on Sunday while Germany breezed past Greece two days earlier while resting their front three.
Even so, Prandelli is not worried about possible fatigue being an issue, despite Germany coach Joachim Loew insisting his side will try to up the tempo in the second period to test Italy’s legs.
“We’re in good shape mentally and physically. We can’t afford negative thoughts, the adrenaline will make the fatigue disappear.”