Italy set up Euro base with confidence vote from Lippi

June 3rd, 2008 - 2:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Baden (Austria), June 3 (DPA) Italy set up their Euro 2008 base at a spa resort in Austria Monday amid quiet optimism that the team can add the European title to their 2006 World Cup crown. Marcello Lippi, who coached the Azzurri to the 2006 title in Berlin before stepping down, believes the present squad under coach Robert Donadoni is well-equipped to win the tournament.

“The 14 world champions (still in the squad) are still hungry for success, Donadoni has added some (nine) players of good quality, and Italy boast a great international prestige. No other national team is stronger,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Despite Lippi’s confidence, there have been concerns about Donadoni’s ability to handle the pressure of a high-level tournament.

The 44-year-old coach lacks the charisma and experience of his 60-year-old predecessor, who had already won a Champions League and an Intercontinental Cup with Juventus when he took over the Azzurri squad.

However, Donadoni has plenty of international experience on the pitch, having played the 1988 and 1996 European tournaments, and notched 12 wins and three draws in his 19 games with the Azzurri.

“Lippi’s name doesn’t bother me,” Donadoni said upon his arrival in Austria. “I’m not the one who keeps mentioning him. If it were so, it would signal a lack of confidence and it would worry me.”

Italy are looking to add a continental title they clinched only once 40 years ago to their fourth World Cup title in 2006. However they are in a tough group with France, the team they beat in the 2006 World Cup final, the Netherlands and Romania.

Italy’s campaign gets underway May 9 against the Netherlands in Berne.

The squad received a warm welcome on its arrival at Vienna airport amid a large national and international media presence.

Italy’s ambassador to Austria, Massimo Spinetti, as well as Friedrich Stickler, the president of the Austrian Football Association, were on hand to greet them.

Their arrival at the spa town of Baden, some 30 kilometres south of Vienna, was a quieter affair, drawing more interest from photographers trying to sneak a shot of the team over a two-metre security fence erected around their hotel.

Schloss Weikersdorf, a Renaissance castle converted into a hotel, will be tightly guarded by police and private security services during the Italians’ stay.

The Italians arrive in good spirits, having beaten Belgium 3-1 on Friday in a last friendly played in Florence.

Donadoni can still count on the experience of players such as goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, while he possesses a solid midfield organised by playmaker Andrea Pirlo and a stellar attack loaded with in-form strikers.

“The base model is what you have seen so far,” Donadoni said after the win over Belgium. “Now I know I can count on many alternatives.”

He is likely to stick to Luca Toni, Antonio Di Natale and Mauro Camoranesi up front, but will consider the good form of Serie A top scorer Alessandro Del Piero plus the young Antonio Cassano and Marco Borriello.

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