‘We’re not afraid of the heat’: Prandelli

Cesare Prandelli said Italy will not use the heat and humidity of Recife as an excuse if they slip up against Costa Rica in their Group D match on Friday.

'We're not afraid of the heat': Prandelli
Cesare Prandelli, coach of Italy's national football team. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

Costa Rica are expected to come out all guns blazing at the Arena Pernambuco in the north-east of the country in a bid to make life tough for the four-time champions.

But Italy coach Prandelli, whose players spent time in a sauna during intensive pre-World Cup workouts at their training base in Florence, said Italy are ready for the central Americans.

"We've known for a long time that we were going to be playing Costa Rica in these kind of conditions. We've adapted accordingly, so tomorrow we will have no excuses," he said.

"We're not afraid of the heat. The only thing we should be afraid of is our opponents."

While Italy opened their campaign with a precious 2-1 win over England, Costa Rica caused one of the biggest upsets of the opening matches with a 3-1 comeback win over Uruguay.

The 'Ticos' sit atop the group ahead of Italy on goal difference and will be looking to use their familiarity with playing in the hot and humid conditions to their advantage.

Costa Rica midfielder Christian Bolanos said: "We have a lot of respect for them [Italy]… but we'll hope to benefit from the heavy climate. We are used to playing in those kinds of temperatures."

An Italy win could secure their ticket to the last 16 – a feat the 2006 champions failed to achieve in 2010 when they crashed out without a win.

But striker Mario Balotelli, who headed the winning goal against England in steamy-hot Manaus, watched Costa Rica stun Uruguay and said: "They're a very good team and we'll show them the respect they deserve by going out and giving everything we can."

Prandelli added: "They have a good system [of play] that they are all familiar with and on an individual level they have some quality players.

"They are organized like a European team and play like South Americans. They like to play deep and have players who are not afraid to go one-on-one.

"We won't underestimate them. They are a very complete side and we will prepare to change tactics during the match if the situation calls for it."

While set to reshuffle his defence, Prandelli indicated Gianluigi Buffon, who is recovering from an ankle injury suffered on the eve of the game against England, could replace Salvatore

Sirigu if he comes through training and physiotherapy unhindered on Thursday.

"Gigi has trained very well over the past three days. He still has a little swelling but we will have to see how he reacts to physiotherapy later today," added Prandelli.

"If he comes through training well, he will be there."

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Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players’ ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome

Italy’s national football team reportedly insisted on taking an open-top bus tour through Rome to show off their European Championship trophy to crowds of fans - despite city authorities forbidding it amid concern about the spread of coronavirus.

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players' ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome
Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

The team’s bus parade through the city on Monday night following their Euro 2020 triumph “was not authorised”, according to Matteo Piantedosi the head of Rome’s prefettura (the public safety authority).

Thousands of fans packed the streets of central Rome to see the team celebrate their cup win after beating England on penalties in the final.

READ ALSO: ‘Football came home’: Italy celebrates Euro 2020 victory over England

Piantedosi told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Wednesday: “We had denied permission to celebrate Italy’s victory in the European Championships on the open bus, but the pact was not respected.”

Piantedosi, who is Rome’s top public security official, said police had “no choice” but to let the parade go ahead after players Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci insisted on it.

Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

A meeting had been held on Friday with the Italian football federation (FIGC) to discuss plans for the celebrations if Italy won, said Piantedosi.

“I had agreed the line with Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and Chief of Police Lamberto Giannini,” he said.

“It was clearly explained that [the parade] was not possible. We said we could not authorize it.”

Piantedosi said the Italian football federation (FIGC) initially agreed to hold a “controlled” ceremony in Rome’s central Piazza del Popolo instead of the parade.

After players insisted on the bus tour on Monday however, Piantedosi said, authorities reluctantly let them go ahead due to fears of sparking public disorder.

“At that point we had no choice but to acknowledge the situation and handle it in the best way we could,” he said.

READ ALSO: Covid cases on the rise in Europe once again as WHO warns of Euro 2020 risk

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

In a statement on Wednesday, the FIGC said it had acted responsibly but decided not to disappoint fans who had come to celebrate with the team.

Footage of large crowds thronging the bus carrying the ‘Azzurri’ and the European Championship trophy through the capital however fuelled concerns about new outbreaks of coronavirus, after Italy’s infection rate began to rise again last week.

The World Health Organization warned earlier this month that crowds and gatherings connected to football matches will fuel a new rise in cases across Europe this summer.

READ ALSO: Delta variant in Italy will be ‘prevalent within 10 days’: health official

Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza also voiced concerns on Monday about the consequences of people gathering to watch sporting events.

He said the European football championship win was “a great joy after terrible months,” but “even in these moments of national pride we can’t forget that our ‘game’ to defeat Covid is not yet won.”

There are currently minimal health restrictions in place across Italy, however masks are supposed to be worn in crowded public places, including outdoors.

“Footage shows that police were virtually the only ones [in the crowd] wearing masks,” said Piantedosi.