Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni has warned his players not to underestimate the Italian side in Euro 2012, as he is convinced that his countrymen will put their current woes behind them to be competitive in the continental competition.
Italy was rocked midweek when a number of top players, including Stefano Mauri and Domenico Criscito, were targeted as part of investigations surrounding the Scommessopoli betting scandal. Things went from bad to worse for the Azzurri on Friday, when they slumped to a humiliating 3-0 reverse at the hands of Russia.
Trapattoni, however, who coached Italy between 2000 and 2004, is certain that when the two sides meet in Group C on June 18 the team's current problems will have no bearing on the game.
"It would be a great mistake if you think Italy is this [finished], because we don't know how they have done in their training camp," the veteran trainer explained to RTE. "Be sure when we meet Italy, they will be another team. We can see what the group did, but don't think this is the violin."
Criticism of the Azzurri has centred around the defense, which endured a forgettable 90 minutes against Russia. But Trapattoni believes the negative talk is a natural part of football."
"It would be the same if we lost the game 3-0. Everybody would criticise us."
The 73-year-old coach has been in charge of Ireland since 2008, and the campaign in Poland and Ukraine will mark his first major international tournament at the helm of the nation.
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- Stefano Mauri