Gerard Pique believes Italy have the quality to cause Spain all sorts of problems in Sunday’s Euro 2012 group match.
Spain begin the defence of their European crown against the 2006 World Cup winners, who head into this game on the back of a 3-0 friendly defeat against Russia.
Pique agreed with the notion that Spain are favourites for the match, but warned his team against underestimating Cesare Prandelli’s men.
“The thing about being favourites is usually not a good thing, but I like it,” he told reporters.
“If they look at us as favourites, then it is because we have the team to beat them. We have a very strong team and I prefer to head into a game as favourite. Pressure does not bother me.
“Players like Mario Balotelli can make you win a match, and players like Andrea Pirlo can make you win a tournament.
“Pirlo is a great player who is capable of controlling any match.”
The Barcelona defender dismissed reports he had a fractious relationship with Real Madrid stopper Sergio Ramos as a result of a tense relationship between the two clubs in recent times.
“There is a very good rapport between us,” Pique said. “People who are on the outside sometimes exaggerate things.
“Of course it seemed that the tension between Real Madrid and Barcelona had grown and that we did not see eye-to-eye, but that is not what happened.”
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