Marcello Lippi - My side are confident
Posted: 24 June 2010 Time: 12:33
Italy national boss Marcello Lippi has insisted that his side are confident of progressing to the knockout stages of the World Cup, but only if they improve on their performances from their opening two group games.
Draws against Paraguay and New Zealand mean that the Italians go into their game against Slovakia in second place in Group F, two points behind leaders Paraguay and needing a result. With so much at stake going into the final round of group fixtures, you could forgive Lippi for being nervous ahead of the Slovakia game, but the Italian believes that his side can progress. "We haven't been tormented by this wait, the confidence is there," he told reporters. He does however recognise that his side must hugely improve on their performances so far in the tournament if they are to ensure the Slovakia game is not their last. "We haven't done that well so far and we must do better. But we don't want this to be our last game. "My lads have a great spirit and we just have to improve, especially in attack. We want to go through to the knock-out round." Italy could still progress to the knockout stages with a draw against Slovakia, as long as Paraguay beat New Zealand, but captain Fabio Cannavaro is insisting that only victory will be good enough. "We have worked hard for two years," Cannavaro said. "It would be a pity to return home tomorrow, more so considering that our best is yet to come. "I just want my team to go through and to clinch our first win because that would change everything for us. "The responsibility is always there because this is a World Cup. But we have no fear because that only drives you to make mistakes. "In a World Cup no-one grants you a favour and we have to improve with respect to our past performances." The Azzurri will be without influential AC Milan midfielder Andrea Pirlo against the Slovakians, at least from the start anyway. “Pirlo will be on the bench,” added Lippi. Although Slovakia have claimed just a point from their opening two games and sit at the bottom of the table, they still have a feint chance of qualifying for the knockout stages if other results go their way. With this in mind, Lippi knows that they will not lie down and hand the game to his side. "They have fast strikers," Lippi said. "For them only a win is sufficient to keep their hopes alive and they will try to do it against us. "But we also have to remember that a draw may not be enough for us."