Euro 2012: Pressure’s off as Irish aim to bow out with win
Marco Tardelli says there will be no pressure on the Republic of Ireland as they bid to condemn Italy to an early Euro 2012 exit.
The Italians need to win in Poznan on Monday night if they are to stand any chance of making the quarter-finals, and find a side managed by compatriots Giovanni Trapattoni and his assistant Tardelli standing in their way.
Ireland have been well beaten by Croatia and Spain in their first two Group C fixtures and face returning to Dublin without a single point unless they can take something from Italy.
However, Tardelli, pictured, is confident they can play with a freedom, rather than the crippling fear and tension which characterised their earlier displays.
He said: “Yes, we will play with less pressure. We want to put the pressure on other team.
“Many players are playing for the first time in important tournament. I think some players have felt nervous or afraid. Against Italy, there is no pressure.”
Ireland have a good record against Italy under Trapattoni having not lost on any of the three occasions on which the teams have met, the last of which was in a 2-0 friendly win. However, Tardelli knows Monday night could be the most difficult encounter yet with his native country’s need pressing. He said: “We have played Italy many times and we have won and we have drawn. We hope to win or draw again.
“Italy at this moment is very strong because they played very, very well against Spain, and I think our players need to be proud to beat this Italian team.”
The Republic trained in Gdynia yesterday and there was a brief concern when central defender Richard Dunne appeared to injure his back, although Tardelli was not too worried.
He said: “Richard Dunne took a knock, but it is not a problem.”
Trapattoni has already indicated he will not make wholesale changes in an attempt to avoid any accusations of handing the Italians an advantage, and Tardelli said: “Giovanni may make some changes, but not many.”
One man who will be hoping to retain his place is midfielder Damien Duff, who will win his 100th cap if he is selected.
Tardelli said: “Damien Duff has been very important for this team, in qualification, against France and against the other teams.
“He is a very important person for all the players and the younger players.”
Despite going into battle with their own country, Trapattoni and Tardelli insist there is no question of divided loyalties. The World Cup winner said: “This is the fourth match that we have played against Italy. I am a professional coach. I work for the FAI.”
But asked if he would revert to supporting Italy after the final whistle, he added: “Yes. It is normal. I am an Italian.”
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