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Italy strategy 'to out-run' champs Spain

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Italy coach Cesare Prandelli. Picture: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli. Picture: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli. Picture: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

ITALY have defined a clear-cut strategy for their Confederations Cup semi-final match against Spain tonight: Out-run the World Cup holders.

As far as Italy coach Cesare Prandelli is concerned, matching Spain's ball possession or passing skills is impossible. So in training this week, running took priority over tactics.

The Italian players sprinted from one end of the field to the other at full speed about 10 times consecutively at one point, then stopped to have their heart rates checked by team trainers.

"We've got to get it into our heads that against Spain it's going to be a battle of suffering," coach Cesare Prandelli said. "Their ball possession is superior to ours and the Spanish are unbelievable at getting past any sort of trap set up by the opponents. They're excellent at holding on to the ball and attacking so we've got to try to make them run as much as possible."

Prandelli may be on to something with his strategy but it remains to be seen if his players have the stamina to execute such a plan.

Japan and Brazil ran circles around Italy in the first half of their group matches and two key Azzurri players have been sent home injured since the 4-2 loss to Brazil – forward Mario Balotelli left with a strained left thigh and fullback Ignazio Abate departed with a dislocated right shoulder.

Also, midfielder Andrea Pirlo sat out the Brazil match due to a muscle problem and continues to train separately from the squad.

However, running may not be enough against Spain, who routed Italy 4-0 in last year's European Championship final.

"Spain is much better off than then, if you consider how easily they advanced from the group and how solid they have been," Prandelli said. "They are the favourites without a doubt."

ITALY v SPAIN, LIVE RTé2 & BBC1 (KO 8.0)


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