Friday 22 September 2017

No time for celebrations as Azzurri turn attentions to the Germans

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli told his players to "turn the page" within minutes of Sunday's penalty shootout victory over England.

The Azzurri beat England on spot-kicks after a goalless draw in Kiev to reach the last four of European Championships for the first time since 2000.

Prandelli quickly turned his attention to Thursday's showdown against Germany in Warsaw.

"We only celebrated for 10 minutes," Prandelli said. "We have turned the page and our focus is already on Germany.

"The Germans, alongside Spain, are favourites to win the European Championship.

"I'm not the first to discover how good they (the Germans) are, they are playing very well."

Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon, who saved Ashley Cole's penalty, urged his team-mates not to get carried away by Sunday's success.

"We cannot forget that we have only overcome the quarter-final stage," Buffon said. "I cannot start jumping for joy after taking a spot in the semi-finals. I will only do that when we win something as a team.

"Those of us that have won something important want to repeat that and achieve it also for those that haven't won a trophy yet."

Major

The Azzurri face a major test in the last four as Germany have won all of their games in Poland and Ukraine.

Joachim Loew's men, runners-up at Euro 2008, brushed aside Greece 4-2 on Friday to record their fourth straight triumph in the tournament.

"They are probably favourites," Buffon said. "But we have the character to face anyone.

"No one goes into a game wanting to finish second."

Buffon praised the fighting spirit the team displayed against England.

"We deserved the win considering what we did throughout the game," the Juventus goalkeeper said. "We were better than them, we created so many goalscoring chances."

Prandelli has some injury concerns heading into the clash with Germany.

Midfielder Daniele de Rossi hurt himself on Sunday and is doubtful. "I hope to recover in time," De Rossi said. "The sciatic nerve is causing me pain and right now I am not optimistic."

Right-back Ignazio Abate is doubtful with a muscle injury in his leg, while Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini is unlikely to recover from a hamstring problem that saw him miss the quarter-final.

And left-back Christian Maggio, who came on as a second-half substitute against England in place of the injured Abate, will miss Thursday's game through suspension.

Irish Independent

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