Football

'Prandelli will get it right'

Riccardo Montolivo believes Italy coach Cesare Prandelli's attention to detail will get his spluttering side back on track in time for the World Cup.

With Italy's World Cup opener against England in Manaus just two weeks away, Prandelli's team could do with a morale-boosting victory when they face the Republic of Ireland in a friendly at Fulham's Craven Cottage tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

The Italians are without a win in five matches since last September after four draws, two at the end of World Cup qualifying campaign and two in friendlies, and a defeat by Spain in their previous warm-up fixture in March.

The four-time world champions need to put an end to that disappointing run to alleviate any fears of a repeat of the dismal 2010 World Cup campaign, when Marcello Lippi's team crashed out at the group stages without a single victory.

Prandelli's players shouldn't be lacking motivation at Craven Cottage because the Azzurri coach is yet to cut his provisional 30-man party down to the final 23-man squad that will travel to Brazil.

And AC Milan midfielder Montolivo insists the squad aren't starting to panic about a potential World Cup collapse thanks to Prandelli's composed demeanour and rigorous work ethic.

"Prandelli pays even more attention to detail in respect to the past," Montolivo said. "He is leaving nothing to chance and because of this, I think he seems at ease.

"He is doing everything possible in order for us to be ready. If someone meets a challenge by being ready and relaxed, he can give his best."

Prandelli, 56, has every reason to be relaxed around his players because his own future was secured when he signed a contract extension on Monday, which will keep him in the job beyond the European Championship in 2016.

Italy, who finished as runners-up at Euro 2012, swept through an unbeaten World Cup qualifying campaign, setting up group -stage fixtures against England, Costa Rica and Uruguay in Brazil.

And despite their recent struggles, Milan captain Montolivo is convinced Italy will prove dangerous dark horses in Brazil.

"Brazil, Spain and Germany are a step ahead of everyone else," he said. "But then there is a second group of teams and that is where Italy are.

"I really hope it can be us who are the surprise package. We are here and now we need to work to get to the deep end of the tournament - that is everyone's dream.

"We are a strong team and, if we play how we can, we can cause problems for anyone." - AFP.


We’re in a particularly difficult group and England go into the World Cup with five or six players who have had incredible seasons.

— Italy coach Cesare Prandelli