Gennaro Gattuso and Gianluca Zambrotta , two of Italy's most in-form players, remain bullish ahead of their Germany 2006 semi-final clash with the hosts despite the risk of suspension hanging over their heads in the event of another yellow card.
Asked about the situation Gattuso replied: "The yellow card couldn't be further from my mind. I'm going to play my usual game and give everything I've got, as always. If it's going to happen, it'll happen, I won't let it affect my performance."
For his part Zambrotta has an interesting suggestion: "The refereeing has been very strict at this World Cup with yellow cards being shown after minimal contact. This results in lots of suspensions because modern football is so quick and physical. It might be an idea to think about suspending players after a third booking."
Go to the Italy team page The two midfielders also reflected on Italy's recent record of playing against the host nation at international tournaments. The Azzurri were eliminated from the last two FIFA World Cups by the host nation - against France in the quarter-finals in 1998 after a penalty shoot-out, and against Korea Republic in the second round in 2002 thanks to a golden goal. Italy also met the Dutch co-hosts in the semi-final of UEFA EURO 2000, yet another match decided on penalties, this time in the Azzurri's favour.
"I think we've learned a lot from those experiences", said Gattuso. "Our team spirit is much better and we approach these games differently now because we're used to them. It's very difficult to score against us. (Marcello) Lippi has made us into a much more solid unit."
Zambrotta also thinks the team has grown as a result of past disappointments. "We're used to this type of match now. I've never played in Dortmund, but I know what's in store for us. The officials haven't had any bearing on the outcome of the games to date at Germany 2006, and nor do I think they'll have any bearing on this one."