POZNAN: Italy – one of the pleasant surprises at Euro 2012 – need to stick to their positive style if they are to keep progressing at Euro 2012, coach Cesare Prandelli said after they reached the quarter-finals on Monday.
“I wanted a team that would improve game after game, a side that could play football,” said Prandelli, who picked up the pieces after replacing Marcello Lippi following their group-stage exit at the 2010 World Cup as holders.
“Teams who can play football can always go far in tournaments, you can get so far just by playing for the results but if want to do well, you have to be a good footballing side.”
Prandelli, whose team beat an aggressive Ireland 2-0 to book their place in the last eight as Group C runners-up, praised his team’s adaptation back to a four-man defence and their ability to keep playing in the face of their opponents’ physical approach.
“We didn’t just want a game of ping pong,” he told a news conference. “It’s not easy to get the ball on the ground and start playing when the opposition are hitting long goal kicks and fighting for the ball with four or five players.
“We’ve often been criticised before for the way we handle sides who play the high ball but we were able to cope with the suffering and get the ball on the ground.
“I thought our four-man defence was excellent,” added Prandelli, who fielded a three-man defence in the opening two 1-1 draws with Spain and Croatia.
“It was not easy to change the system but we were able to do so.”
He had more words of advice for maverick striker Mario Balotelli, who grabbed the second goal in style in the 90th minute after coming off the bench. Antonio Cassano got the opener with a first-half header.
“When there are a lot of expectations around you, you need the strength to try and deal with the pressure and the mindset that you’re not playing on your own, there’s a whole team around you who can help,” Prandelli said of Balotelli.