Italy are good under pressure: Zambrotta - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Italy are good under pressure: Zambrotta

23/06/2010 11:24:57 AM Comments (0)

Entering the third game of a World Cup or European Championship with everything on the line is nothing new for Italy defender Gianluca Zambrotta.

A member of Italy's team since 1999, Zambrotta can recall the first-round difficulties the Azzurri faced at the 2002 World Cup, Euro 2004 and Euro 2008 - and even last year's Confederations Cup.

In recent years, the only solid start came four years ago when Italy won its fourth World Cup.

Having opened this time with two draws, the defending champion must beat Slovakia on Thursday to be sure of advancing from Group F.

"Either we're in or we're out," Zambrotta said. "It's not the first time we've faced a game like this and we know how to get the best out of ourselves."

At the 2002 World Cup, Italy beat Ecuador in its opener, then lost to Croatia and needed an 85th-minute equaliser from Alessandro Del Piero against Mexico to be sure of advancing. Two years later, the Azzurri drew their opening two matches with Denmark and Sweden at Euro 20004 and beat Bulgaria in its last group game, but was still eliminated.

At Euro 2008, Italy was defeated 3-0 by the Netherlands in its opener, then pulled out a 1-1 draw with Romania before beating France 2-0 to advance. The only recent instance where Italy lost its final group game came at last year's Confederations Cup, when the Azzurri were beaten 3-0 by Brazil and sent home early.

"To be honest, we're not even contemplating the possibility of getting eliminated," Zambrotta said. "We've still got a great chance of advancing."

Italy drew 1-1 with Paraguay and New Zealand in its opening two games at this World Cup.

Despite producing numerous chances, the Azzurri forwards have struggled to find the target against two opponents that defended with nine men from virtually start to finish.

The only two goals Italy has allowed came following free kicks.

"We're going to give our all and hopefully we'll have a bit more luck," Zambrotta said. "Slovakia has everything on the line, too, so it should be a different game from our first two."

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