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Offense is the best defence

Antonio Cassano believes Italy coach Cesare Prandelli will continue his attacking approach as the Azzurri tackle Croatia in their second Euro Group C match here on Thursday. Match box

sports Updated: Jun 14, 2012 01:49 IST

Antonio Cassano believes Italy coach Cesare Prandelli will continue his attacking approach as the Azzurri tackle Croatia in their second Euro Group C match here on Thursday.

Italy surprised many people with their positive performance in a 1-1 draw with world champions Spain on Sunday as they took the game to the defending champions at times and created several scoring opportunities.

And Cassano said a return to the traditional “catenaccio” (door-bolt) style of the past is not an option under Prandelli.

“From the first day Prandelli's style has always been to attack,” said the 29-year-old AC Milan forward.

“He’s changed his system but his style is always to have possession and to attack.

“Against Spain we did it less because they had a lot of the ball but you saw the same idea, it didn't change from attacking.” Cassano himself is the man who leads the line but many are wondering who will play alongside him.

Balotelli blues
Errant Manchester City forward Mario Balotelli got the nod against Spain but played poorly and was replaced just before the half hour mark by Antonio Di Natale, who looked lively and scored the opener.

Prandelli has admitted he is considering dropping Balotelli in favour of Di Natale and Cassano says he has no preference as to who he plays alongside. “The important thing is that I play,” he joked. “Whoever (Prandelli) he chooses, the problem would be if they both played and not me!”

Italy need a victory to ensure they tackle Ireland in their final group game with their destiny in their own hands as Croatia won their opening match. Failure to beat Croatia would mean Italy needing to beat Ireland in their final game in Poznan and hoping the result between Spain and Croatia does not cost them.

The importance of this match has not been lost on Prandelli who says he will change some things.

Second match jinx
Italy hasn’t beaten its Mediterranean neighbor in their five meetings, and the Azzurri are also winless in their second match at their last five major tournaments.

“I’ve always said Croatia is the most dangerous squad because it’s the most unpredictable one. They change the way they play all the time, sometimes even from one half to another.”

And even though Croatia are ranked higher, it doesn’t matter much to their coach Slaven Bilic. “For me Italy is -- they’re not better than Spain, right — but you can’t analyze them, they play with more options,” Bilic said.

“You know how Spain are going to play but Italy are so unpredictable. They can pass the ball. They can play the short balls. They can play through the middle. They can play counterattack, with long ball from (Andrea) Pirlo to the strikers. They can play down the flanks. They are for me one of the biggest favourites in this tournament.”