Cesare Prandelli has called on his Italy team to maintain their run of positive results when they meet the Republic of Ireland in Belgium.Italy have won their last three matches, beating Slovenia and Estonia in Euro 2012 qualifying and seeing off Ukraine in an international friendly.
They have another friendly in Liege on Tuesday, where they take on an Ireland team who have also won three in succession.
“I will ask my team to continue along the path of recent games, especially as we are facing a side that is in good form recently,” Prandelli said.
“I will analyse the match on a collective level, but there will also be tests for individual players.”
Acknowledging the absence of a truly outstanding player in the Italy team, Prandelli called on his team to work together to overcome the deficit in raw talent.
“Clearly if we had a player like Leo Messi then we’d all be happy, but we don’t,” he said.
“For this reason we have to make up the difference with organisation. We’ve got to work hard on this aspect, at the same time trying to help our younger players grow.”
Prandelli will hand a start to Giampaolo Pazzini at the Stade de Sclessin, making the Inter Milan striker the focal point of Italy’s attack against Ireland.
“I want to see if the team can maintain the same mentality and tactics with Giampaolo Pazzini on from the start,” he said.
“The lads have to first of all maintain possession, then seek a through-ball. It would be embarrassing to always punt long balls for Pazzini.”
Prandelli will be pitting his wits against countryman Giovanni Trapattoni in Tuesday’s match.
Veteran tactician Trapattoni coached Prandelli at Juventus between 1976 and 1985 and the pair share a special bond.
“It’s a great feeling because I consider Trapattoni a special person,” Prandelli said.
“He is a great coach and his results prove this.”
“He is untouchable, he is great. I spent six years with him and from the human point of view he has given me many things, which I still have.”
“He usually highlights the human aspect. He gave me an extraordinary lesson in coaching.”