Italy to face Trapattoni at Euros
KIEV, Ukraine (AP)
Being drawn against his homeland at Euro 2012 doesn't just give Ireland's Italian coach Giovanni Trapattoni a difficult and emotional matchup at next year's tournament.
He'll also have to revise the team's preparations before even traveling to Poland and Ukraine.
''Trapattoni told me that he wanted to bring Ireland to train in Italy before the tournament,'' Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said after Friday's draw in Kiev. ''But now he will change his plans.''
Leading Ireland into its first major tournament since the 1994 World Cup gives Trapattoni a chance to restore his reputation on the international stage, having seen his Italy side exit in the group stage during a dismal Euro 2004.
Trapattoni had already seen Ireland drawn against world and European champion Spain when Italy's name came out of a miniature ball on the stage at Kiev's Palace of Arts.
''(I) wanted to avoid Italy because they are strong mentally and because we know each other,'' Trapattoni said. ''But we knew we had to face strong opponents. I hope we don't do ourselves harm in that match and that we get to June 18th already calm.''
Before Italy and Ireland meet in Poznan on June 14 they must negotiate matches against holder Spain and Croatia in Group C.
But Trapattoni, the oldest coach at the Euros at 72, has already got the better of Prandelli with Ireland, winning 2-0 in a friendly in June.
''It is dangerous in this situation because they could prepare better,'' Trapattoni said. ''It's important we remember this lesson. ... I must convince my players it will be another game. Italy know us very well and Croatia is a strong team because there are creative players in Croatia. They are very strong.''
While Ireland was ranked 21st in the latest FIFA world rankings, Italy was ninth.
''Knowing Trapattoni, he will try until the last second to achieve something prestigious,'' Prandelli said. ''But the important thing is that we arrive prepared and with the right mentality because it's going to be a challenging group.''
By comparison, opening Group C against Croatia should be easier for Ireland.
''Realistically, we don't only have hope, we feel a real possibility and real chances to pass the group stage,'' Croatia coach Slaven Bilic said. ''Spain are the favorites for the tournament, I think Italy, Ireland and Croatia have equal chances to be the second team.''
While Spain finished qualifying with a perfect record, Vicente Del Bosque's side has looked far from impressive in friendlies recently, losing four against leading sides - including Italy in August.
''The fact that we beat them in a friendly certainly gives us courage because it means we can compete against them,'' Prandelli said.