Italy coach Cesare Prandelli is not about to press the panic button despite seeing his side's winless streak stretch to seven matches with Wednesday's 1-1 draw against minnows Luxembourg. The Italians, who start their FIFA World Cup™ campaign against England in just nine days, finished top of their qualifying group for Brazil without losing a match but they are now without a victory since beating the Czech Republic 2-1 in September
That disappointing run would have come to an end on Wednesday only for Maxine Chanot to net an 85th-minute equaliser for Luxembourg that cancelled out Claudio Marchisio's early opener for the Azzurri. Prandelli acknowledges his side need to improve but he gained some useful insights from the match and remains in upbeat mood, insisting they can still have a "great World Cup".
He told www.figc.it: "We completely made a mistake in marking their corner kick and Luxembourg took advantage and scored. I need to test some of the solutions we had been practising in training, especially in midfield. It is something I needed to do and I don't think it was a failure."
"I've seen interesting things," added Prandelli, who experimented with Andrea Pirlo and Marco Verratti playing together at the heart of midfield. "We knew that we weren't going to be sharp considering the hard work the team has undergone in recent days. We have to improve but we leave for Brazil knowing that we can have a great World Cup."
Making things more difficult for Prandelli and Italy is the absence of AC Milan captain Riccardo Montolivo. The experienced midfielder fractured his shin bone in Saturday's goalless draw against the Republic of Ireland in London and will be sidelined for at least six weeks.
"It's clear that we are missing Montolivo, a player that has been with us for so many years," said Prandelli.
We have to improve but we leave for Brazil knowing that we can have a great World Cup.
Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini echoed his coach's comments. The Juventus centre-back admitted he side were hoping for better from their World Cup build-up, but remains confident it will be a different story for the 2006 champions in Brazil.
He said: "We are disappointed. We wanted to go to Brazil with a victory and with more enthusiasm. But at the same time I am convinced that in our next game, when it matters, we will do well.
"We cannot forget that historically, we don't do well in friendlies but in the games that matter we deliver. Against Luxembourg, we played 50 to 60 minutes of good football before we slowed down. I'm calm. We will be ready."
Italy leave late on Thursday evening for Rio de Janeiro and will have one more warm-up game against Brazilian club Fluminense on Sunday before their FIFA World Cup™ opener. In addition to taking on England, the Azzurri will face Uruguay and Costa Rica in Group D.