| KRAKOW, Poland, June 17
KRAKOW, Poland, June 17 Giovanni Trapattoni may
be a proud Italian but he knows he has a professional duty as
Ireland coach to try his hardest to deny Italy a passage into
the Euro 2012 quarter-finals on Monday.
Italian media is obsessed with fears Spain and Croatia will
play out a 2-2 draw in the other Group C game and knock out the
Azzurri even if they beat the Irish in Poznan.
Such is 73-year-old Trapattoni's standing in the game,
though, that no one is questioning his loyalties.
Ireland have been eliminated after two heavy Group C defeats
and Monday's swansong in the final group match could be the last
major tournament appearance for the likes of 31-year-old Robbie
Keane who will not want to bow out with a whimper.
Trapattoni, who managed Italy at Euro 2004 when they
suspected a never-proved fix when Denmark and Sweden drew 2-2 to
eliminate them, will make sure his troops are motivated despite
only having pride to play for.
"It would not be fair to the other countries in the group if
I did not select my best team," said Trapattoni.
"With this team, and these players, I am proud."
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli is sure Ireland and Spain will
be totally professional.
"I know we have to believe right until the end. I don't
believe in any suspect goings on," Prandelli said. "It all
depends on us, we need to deserve the win, it won't be easy."
A victory would be enough for Italy to reach the
quarter-finals in second place if Spain or Croatia win the other
However, an Italy win and a draw in the Spain game makes the
situation complicated because all three teams would then be
level on five points and head-to-head results come into play.
A 'mini-league' between the three would be the deciding
factor, with Italy having drawn 1-1 with both.
A 0-0 draw between Spain and Croatia means Italy would go
through with a win while a 1-1 draw would bring group goal
difference into play.
A scoring draw of 2-2 or higher between Spain and Croatia,
though, and Italy are out whatever the do against the Irish.
Prandelli is set to make changes with forward Mario
Balotelli possibly being replaced by Antonio Di Natale and
Alessandro Diamanti in the running for a spot in midfield or as
a second striker after impressive form in training.
Defender Andrea Barzagli is almost fit after a calf problem.
The Italy coach was annoyed that the players sat on their
1-0 halftime lead over Croatia last time out only for Mario
Mandzukic to equalise.
"It's not a matter of fitness, it's more a mental thing,"
Prandelli said. "This is the mentality we have to change. We are
a good team, we've got to believe it a bit more."
Ireland winger Damien Duff may wear the captain's armband to
mark his 100th cap for his country while normal skipper Keane
said the squad were determined to put on a show.
"The mindset is we are not going home without any points,"
Keane told reporters.
(Editing by Ken Ferris)