Italy coach Cesare Prandelli wants to “take risks” against Germany in their Euro 2012 semi-final, he said on Monday, a day after the Azzurri made it through to the last four.
“We have to take risks and not defend in our penalty area,” he said at the team’s base camp.
“I’d prefer it if they (Germany) scored on the counter-attack than have us defend constantly for 20 minutes.”
Italy qualified for Thursday’s semi-final in Warsaw after beating England 4-2 on penalties in Kiev on Sunday. Prandelli said he wanted to continue with the tactics deployed in that game, which saw them push forward rather than defend.
But Prandelli is mindful of the risk of pushing too far forward, given the defensive problems highlighted in their group stage matches.
“I’ll keep a pebble in my shoe so I remember,” he added.
“We also know how to tackle,” he said, aware that Germany could completely change their three-man front line, as they did between their last group stage match and the quarter final against Greece, which they won 4-2.
Italy’s “commmisario tecnico” or technical director said Germany play with a lone striker, with wide midfielders who attack and give depth as well as a “false nine”.
“But tactical aspects are the least of our problems, we’re still good at finding a balance,” he added, pointing out that Italy had 68 per cent of possession against England.
“When you’ve got this capacity, you’ve got to exploit it,” he said.
Prandelli’s two seasons developing an attacking game have not been squandered by making tactical changes in defence just before the Euros. Against England, Italy dominated whilst keeping their defensive shape and “balance”, as goalkeeper and captain Gianluigi Buffon has pointed out.
Against Joachim Loew’s side, Prandelli said Italy had to show themselves to be more ruthless in front of goal but he defended attacking duo Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli.
The coach has trumpeted both since August 2010 but they have never really developed a partnership until this tournament because of injury and disciplinary problems.
Prandelli said it was good to have “a player like Cassano, even for 40 to 50 minutes. He’s played four matches after months of inactivity. But yesterday (Sunday) he was tired. It was Balotelli and Cassano’s most difficult match.”
Cassano – nicknamed “Fantantonio” – had heart problems last year, while Balotelli’s issues mainly concerned ill-discipline on the pitch. But Prandelli said of the controversial Manchester City striker: “Balotelli’s pleased me. He was asked to draw out the central defenders and he’s done it.
“He’s lacked a bit of luck and clear-headedness but he’s come through it very honourably.”
Prandelli also said he was disappointed that Germany, who played their quarter-final last Friday against Greece, winning 4-2, had two more days of recuperation than his players.
“UEFA has to sort out the calendar problem. Either we extend the tournament or we find solutions. If not, we’ll have less-than-entertaining finals,” he added.