Italy coach Roberto Donadoni swatted away suggestions on Saturday that Holland would allow Romania an easy ride in their final Euro 2008 Group C clash and thereby ensure neither the world champions or 2006 World Cup finalists France can progress.
Holland have already qualified by virtue of their two crushing wins over Italy and France, whilst Romania have garnered two points from two draws and victory over the Dutch would send them into the last eight whatever happened in the match between France and Italy.
However, Donadoni, whose side slightly rebounded from their 3-0 defeat by Holland to draw 1-1 with Romania on Friday, dismissed the idea that the Dutch, coached by his close friend and former AC Milan team-mate Marco van Basten, would take their foot off the pedal even if as is likely it is mainly the reserve side that turns out.
“I am not even thinking of that happening,” said Donadoni, whose French counterpart Raymond Domenech has been lambasted by the Romanian players for suggesting that it would effectively be fixed in their favour.
“I believe in honesty and openness. Its always the same old chat and it doesn't serve any purpose.
“And even if it is the reserve team which plays, that is not to say the Dutch won't win.
“On the contrary, the reserves would love to show that they deserve a place in the first team.
“What is more is that the coach van Basten is an honest, competent and upstanding person. That is three guarantees already. I have confidence in him,” added Donadoni, who often plays golf with van Basten, though he has yet to beat him.
Donadoni, who has had the almost impossible job of replacing World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi and despite signing a two year extension to his contract prior to the tournament is still under severe pressure, said that he believed the players were up for the French challenge.
“We have to beat France,” he said.
“It is a crucial match because when one still has a chance to qualify you have to push yourself to the limit.
“I saw already at training this morning (Saturday) that the players are determined to prove how good they are against the French.
“They have a real hunger to prepare in the best possible manner for this challenge, which will dictate whether or not we progress or not.”
The former elegant AC Milan and Italy winger, who was part of the great Milan side that dominated Italian and European football in the late 1980's and early 1990's, said he was not concerned that neither Luca Toni nor Alessandro del Piero had scored as yet.
“The important thing is to create chances,” said Donadoni, who missed a penalty in the 1990 World Cup semi-final shootout loss to Argentina.
“If it is (Christian) Panucci who scores instead of Toni or Del Piero then that suits me as well.
“To have both the top scorers from Serie A and the Bundesliga doesn't guarantee you anything.
“But yesterday (Friday), the team created a lot of opportunities and I was pleased with the strikers.”
Donadoni would not be drawn on whether he would opt to give fiery Sampdoria striker Antonio Cassano a start after he impressed in coming on in the second-half against the Dutch.
“It is important to remember that two days ago, you (the journalists) were saying 'Del Piero, Del Piero, Del Piero…'.
“But it is true each time he has come on he has done well.
“However, I will decide on that and other things in the coming days.
“But I do not rule that possibility out, as indeed I don't others.”
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