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Euro 2012: Prandelli full of respect for defending champs

The Italian boss says, ‘Spain are not boring in any shape or form.’

AS THE DEBATE about Spain heats up and many now feel that Italy can take them in tomorrow’s Euro 2012 final, the Italians themselves were more respectful.

And this did not feel like the usual empty pre-match words.

Italy manager Cesare Prandelli emphatically stated that he does not think Spain are “boring” and that, as a result of technical excellence of the world champions, his team will have to adapt their own possession game.

“Spain are the best side in the world, they’ve shown that over the last few years. They’ve stayed true to their football and we’ve always said they are the team to beat.

“I don’t think it’s Spain being boring. It’s the fear of the same side always winning. Spain always seem to come out on top so they’re not boring in any shape or form.

“In terms of our own approach, we’ve got to be very good during the game. We’ve got to pick our moments. We don’t expect to be in charge of the game. We have a lot of respect but we can play football when the opportunity arises.

“I really hope we can be positive and take the game to them. Our first aim will be to shut down the space and win the ball back. Winning the game will depend on closing the space in the central midfield area.

“I expect the usual Spain side – a very brave team that can keep the ball. They are a side who, even if they don’t have a central striker, they still have the space.

“This is what modern football is about. This is the type of football I enjoy watching.

“I think Spain’s strength is not only ball possession but also the way they win it back and they win it a long way from their own goal.”

Italy, of course, have attempted to adopt that approach since Prandelli took over – and, evidently, they’ve done so quite successfully.

“Even in our qualifying games, we’ve always tried to play using the strengths of our players. This has been our main strength. We’ve also risked a little in this approach. We’ve trained a lot at Coverciano [the Italian base], which you won’t have seen, trying to play this football. We also needed to get rid of a bit of tension.

“Our central midfield has a lot of quality in it. We can run a lot and press the ball and, of course, we have a great player who can raise the level and we try and get the ball to him: Pirlo. He can have the space to dictate things.”

Tomorrow, as Prandelli admits, he might find it harder to dictate the game.

Finding a way around that, again, will be key.

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