Italy banish conspiracy theory thoughts

Italy's Euro 2012 squad trained gently in hot sunshine on Saturday afternoon apparently convinced they have their destiny in their own hands.

If they beat Ireland in their final Group C game on Monday the Italians believe they will reach the quarter-finals even though victory would not be enough if Spain and Croatia drew their last match and scored at least two goals each.

Fears of another 'biscotto' affair, a conspiracy theory generated by the Italian media in which they fear being eliminated by Spain and Croatia contriving a 2-2 draw, were widely dismissed.

As hundreds of Polish supporters strolled by on their way to Krakow's main fan zone at the sprawling field of Blonia, defender Andrea Barzagli and midfielder Claudio Marchisio both stressed that they were focusing only on beating Ireland.

“"We believe that Spain will win and that it will be Italy and Spain through to the quarter-finals," said Marchisio.

“"Ireland will not be easy to beat and they will fight, but we must win."

The irony of Italy having to defeat a team already eliminated and managed by an Italian in Giovanni Trapattoni produced no more than a grin and a shrug.

As all 20 outfield players juggled individually with footballs in front of an appreciative crowd of sponsors' guests at the Krakovia Stadium, federation officials also laughed off talk of a conspiracy.

Manager Cesare Prandelli, looking relaxed, did not speak to the media, but Barzagli paid tribute to him.

“"There is a lot of respect for him because of how he talks to us, the players," he said.

“"If there are any changes in the team, that respect is important. He explains things well for us."

Fully recovered from a calf injury, Barzagli said he was hopeful of selection in central defence.

"“But we don't know what he is thinking, not yet," he added. “"For us all, the most important thing is to win. We don't need to think about anything else."


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