Italy coach wary of Italian euphoria

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli urged caution following his side's impressive qualification campaign for Euro 2012.

Updated: October 12, 2011 16:30 IST
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Pescara, Italy: Italy coach Cesare Prandelli urged caution following his side's impressive qualification campaign for Euro 2012.

Despite facing a group including potential stumbling blocks such as Serbia and Slovenia, Italy remained unbeaten in 10 matches, winning eight of those and qualifying for the finals in Poland and Ukraine with two games to spare.

They rounded off their Group C campign here on Tuesday night with a resounding 3-0 defeat of Northern Ireland.

It has led some in Italian football to claim the country is one of the best three teams in the world, but Prandelli does not agree.

"We can say these things but we still have to be prepared for big tournaments and to be at the top of our game when we play the big teams," he said. "I'm calm but I know too that we can improve a lot."

Prandelli revealed that was why he made only a few changes to his preferred first team for a match against the Irish that had nothing riding on it for either side.

Prandelli made only four changes to his team and two of those were at full-back, where he has always changed things around anyway.

"We're a young team from this point of view and need to play a lot of minutes and a lot of games because we need to improve our team-work.

"Then we will have a look at other players in other friendlies."

One of those players to whom Prandelli gave an opportunity was Parma forward Sebastian Giovinco, and the coach was pleased with the diminutive striker's performance.

"Givoinco played very well, in fact we could have looked more for him. His performance was excellent.

"He moved a lot but the team needed to look more for him when he went up alongside Antonio (Cassano).

"For me he did very well, he ran a lot and tried to get forward."

The former Roma and Fiorentina coach did admit there was a lot more cause for optimism than when he took over the job in June 2010 following a disastrous World Cup campaign under Marcello Lippi.

"When we started there was a lot of pessimism and worry but football can be magical because you need only a few results to give calm and confidence to a team.

"We've improved a lot and the thing that really is interesting is not conceding a goal (against Northern Ireland) -- that's the attitude of a big team."

For Northern Ireland boss Nigel Worthington, it was the end of the road for him as the national team manager, but he said he was going out with his head held high.

"The options are that I have still got functions to attend for the (Northern Irish football) association and the work's ongoing although this was the last game," he said.

"We'll see what will happen between now and whenever.

"It was a fanatastic game to finish on against Italy. The welcome we've had from the Italian people has been outstanding.

"If a club position comes up I'll (be preparing for games) on a more regular basis, perhaps three times a week, and that's what we mamagers enjoy.

"If and when, I will look forward to it.

"When you're working with good people, the players have been fantastic and the staff.

"We've been one unit all through and for any team to grow together, that's important for me and I hope it will continue.

"For the people who represent Northern Ireland, it's important for the players to turn up on a regular basis.

"I've been very fortunate in qualifying, with the players nine times out of 10 turning up, and we've finished up getting good results."

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  • Football
  • Italy
  • Philippe Mexes
  • Franck Ribéry
  • Gianluigi Buffon
  • Yoann Gourcuff
  • Northern Ireland

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