Donadoni brushes off worries
Toni has yet to find the net in this competition in three matches while Pirlo, along with fellow midfielder Gennaro Gattuso, is suspended for the crunch clash. But Donadoni, 44, insisted neither issue is a problem for the world champions, who have been ominously improving since their catastrophic opening 3-0 defeat to the Netherlands in Berne.
"I'm not one to look at statistics, I'm more interested in practical details," said Donadoni. "Obviously I hope Luca scores but if a defender scores, as happened in previous games, then that's fine. Obviously it's important for strikers to score but the fact that he (Toni) didn't score against France is fine because he won us a penalty and that resulted in France having a man sent off."
Toni was a constant thorn in France's side during the game and several times got behind the backline to latch onto balls over the top. He didn't manage to hit the target but he looked a certainty to score one time until Eric Abidal tripped him from behind, giving away the spot kick and earning himself a red card.
Pirlo converted the penalty and it was his vision that looked most likely to break down the French defences. But with both him and Gattuso - the grit of Italy's midfield - out, it will be up to other midfielders such as Daniele De Rossi to take the game by the scruff of the neck, and Donadoni is confident they can.
"Pirlo and Gattuso are very important, although obviously Gattuso was possibly less important than Pirlo in the last three games," said the coach, a former AC Milan player. "I don't want to repeat myself or wax lyrical about my players but you should know this one thing: we trust all 23 players. There are no players that we value more or less highly than any others. That's a positive aspect for us because we know that every player has his own value."
Spain fighting against history
Spain have never beaten Italy in either a FIFA World Cup™ match or the UEFA European Championships, but Donadoni feels that might just spur on the Iberians. "We faced Spain in a friendly (in March) and they are a very good team so it's no surprise that they are in the quarter-finals," he said.
"They have very good football players, they've always produced very good players but in terms of the national team they have never produced great results. But that could spur them on as the players will want to achieve an important objective and we have to tackle that with at least as much determination as them."