Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi has insisted he is not competing with AC Milan's Andrea Pirlo for a place in the starting 11 during Euro 2008.
Speaking from Italy's training base, at the ground of Admira Wacker, just outside of Vienna, De Rossi claimed there was no rivalry between the pair.
De Rossi performs a similar role for AS Roma that Pirlo does for Milan and some commentators believe only one at a time can play in the national team.
And Pirlo – man of the match at the 2006 World Cup final – has long cemented his place in the Italy shirt, to the point that he is regarded as an almost certainty to start.
And hence De Rossi is expected to be warming the bench, but he doesn't see it that way.
“There's a lot of competition and hence no-one is assured of having a place in the team,” he said.
“You can't talk of a duel between me and Pirlo. We're friends, the rivalry is created by the press.”
Whatever De Rossi's chances of making it into the team that faces the Netherlands in Berne on June 9, one player who won't be there is injured captain Fabio Cannavaro.
He damaged ankle ligaments on Monday and went under the knife on Wednesday to repair the damage, he will be out for three months.
But despite the absence of the former World Player of the Year, De Rossi insists Italy are better placed to succeed this time around than two years ago when they went on to lift the World Cup.
“Cannavaro's absence will be felt on the field but the fact that he will remain here is important for the group.
“He's a symbol for us, I'm really sorry about what's happened to him.”
“We're calmer here because back then (2006) we were in the middle of the (match-fixing) scandal.
“Right now there's the right amount of tension and a majority of calmness. Certainly when you feel the first game approaching, you know the emotions.”
Even though he is with Italy, De Rossi took a moment to reflect on domestic rivals Inter Milan's signing of former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho as their new coach.
The midfielder rejected suggestions that Mourinho is an unpleasant character and instead extolled his virtues.
“Mourinho doesn't seem unpleasant to me,” he said. “And it seems to me as if his players would throw themselves under a car for him.
“Will it be more difficult for us (to win Serie A)? It's already difficult for us and we haven't managed it yet,” added De Rossi, whose side just lost out to Inter for this season's Serie A title.
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