Cesare Prandelli is one of the most polite and considerate interviewees around. But the Italy coach is not the type to just talk about whatever comes into his head for hours on end. He chooses his words as though he is aware of the potential repercussions of every sentence. Or in other words, with the same intelligence and care with which he has shaped the four time world champions since taking over the position of coach following the frustrating campaign at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
This makes the Italian perfect for the interview technique that FIFA.com has been using recently: show the interviewee a series of photos of people and scenes and register his or her reaction to each one. You can read Prandelli’s reactions to these photos here.
On Gianluigi Buffon
It’s not difficult to talk about Gigi. He’s the captain and an example to us all. He can both motivate the team and calm players down when they’re on edge, and he makes sure everyone appreciates just what it means to wear the Italian shirt. Players who are called up to the squad don’t need to listen to lectures: they can just watch and imitate Gigi.
On Andrea Pirlo
He’s a great champion: just full of pure class and intelligence. He’s a player who makes things happen all over the pitch, and even though he doesn’t say much, he’s very charismatic. He’s a quiet leader.
Veterans like Buffon and Pirlo have already won it all. They know how to lead a team to victory. And most of all, they feel real pride when they pull on the shirt and are genuinely grateful to have the opportunity to play for their country. These are essential qualities when you are trying to create a winning mentality.
On Mario Balotelli
Mario Balotelli has the potential to be one of the greats. However, he needs to find a seriousness and a balance so that he can realise his potential. In recent years he has wasted lots of energy on trivial things. The great champions don’t do that. For them the only thing that matters is winning.
We have a good relationship, and we both know how to get across what we want to say. All the coaches that have worked with Mario try to offer him something new, because they know the enormous potential he has. When he fulfils his potential he will make a huge difference to any team.
On the youthful Italy squad
We have a lot of exciting youngsters in the squad. As well as [Lorenzo] Insigne and [Alessandro] Florenzi (the two players in the photo shown to Prandelli), we have [Marco] Verratti, [Mattia] Destro, [Mattia] De Sciglio… There are five or six really promising players, who played in the UEFA European U-21 Final against Spain. Obviously you need dependability in the senior squad. But they have a lot of ability.
On Spain, the eternal rival
We’ve played against Spain many times in recent years: in the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil, in the first game of EURO 2012 and then again in the final, in a friendly in Bari (in August 2011).... And each game has been different to the others. But the semi-final of the Confederations Cup showed us that Spain aren’t unbeatable and have their weaknesses just like everybody else. In that game we worked out how to exploit those weaknesses. Having said that, obviously we’re talking about a team with great experience of winning, one with tremendous personality and ability. They will definitely be one of the main contenders at the World Cup.