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Donadoni insists Italians are ready for Le Crunch

SoccerNews in European Championships, Ligue 1, Serie A 16 Jun 2008

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Italy coach Roberto Donadoni insists his side are ready for their do-or-die Group C clash against fellow 2006 World Cup finalists France with a Euro 2008 quarter-final place at stake.

“We are ready. It is the last match of the group stages, we know what is at stake and we will put our heart and soul into winning what is a key match,” said the 44-year-old.

The winner of the game at Zurich's Letzigrund Stadium will pick up a ticket to the quarter-finals – providing Romania lose to the Netherlands in Tuesday's other Group C game.

Despite France and Italy starting as pre-tournament co-favourites, both sides have stuggled, succumbing to a heavy defeat by the Dutch and only managing a 1-1 draw with group rivals Romania – and only that courtesy of a penalty save from Gianluigi Buffon.

History favours the French.

The 2006 World Cup final is the only time they have lost to Italy in eight matches and it is 30 years since the Azzurri's last win over 90 minutes against their neighbours, a 2-1 success at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina.

But Donadoni said statistics and records mean nothing in a game like this and the Italians are under pressure after getting off to a bad start with a 3-0 hammering at the hands of the Dutch on June 9 in Berne.

“It has also been said that Italy has not managed to beat France in a normal game for 30 years,” said Donadoni.

“But the statistics, quite frankly, aren't important.

“Before last week, it had been 30 years since the Netherlands last beat Italy and we all know what happened there.”

As his side have scored just one goal in two games, Donadoni admitted he is considering playing Sampdoria striker Antonio Cassano up front alongside Bayern Munich's Luca Toni.

Having used Udinese's Antonio Di Natale against the Dutch and Juventus star Alessandro Del Piero against Romania, the Azzurri's forwards have yet to fire in the tournament.

“You will see who I select tomorrow,” insisted Donadoni.

“Cassano reminds me of myself when I was playing, but he plays more forward, while I had other responsibilities.

“He doesn't help out so much at getting the ball back, which irritates me sometimes as football is also about playing when you don't have the ball.”

The sides go into Tuesday's game knowing if Romania beat Marco van Basten's Dutch side they will both make an early exit, but Donadoni insists all concentration will be in Zurich rather than the other Group C clash in Berne.

“You can't afford to think about the other match, those things are out of our control,” said the Italian.

“All that worries us is to do the best we can.

“After that we may not have our destiny in our own hands, but we just have to get on with the job in hand.

“Our suitcases aren't packed yet, they are still open.”

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