Goals crucial for Italy
Claudio Marchisio has urged Italy to start taking their chances in front of goal when they meet Ireland in their Group C clash at Euro 2012.
The Azzurri are at risk of falling at the first hurdle in consecutive tournaments, having drawn with Spain and Croatia in their opening two fixtures and sitting two points behind the duo with only one round of matches in the group left.
However, they gained plaudits for their impressive starts against their rivals, only to see their leads slip and a string of missed opportunities suffice.
With this in mind, Marchisio took the time to offer an explanation for their profligacy.
"Two draws like in 2010? I do not want to think (about the World Cup) at all, it would be a bad thing for the team to think about," he said.
"I have to say that in the two games we've played, the team have put some good moves together, but we have not taken enough risks to score.
"This Italy reminds me of Juventus, who drew too many times during mid-season. With Juve, as the campaign wore on, we began to exploit more and more opportunities, little by little.
"We hope to be able to do the same with Italy."
The Juventus ace has too been guilty of not putting his chances away, with two close-range efforts in their last match being denied by Stipe Pletikosa, but he is more concerned about the team, as a collective unit, functioning properly in the final third.
"I have had many scoring opportunities in these games, but at the moment, the most important thing is to score against Ireland," he said.
"Winning is all that matters. Personally, I believe we will not suffer at all from the pressure. We are a team with many players who know how it feels to be a world champion."
"It has not (been a disappointment). Certainly on paper it was hoped that things would be better, but in competitions like this, you often start by meeting teams with lesser quality, and they are more difficult to break down."
Marchisio responded to Xavi's pre-match quip that Spain would overcome Croatia in their last group match to seal progression, thereby dismissing the notion of a potential conspiracy.
The 26-year-old, though, is not resting on his laurels.
"Xavi said that Spain would beat Croatia? I believe him, but we mustn't necessarily believe it," he said.
"Can Croatia take the game to Spain? The Iberians are definitely favourites as they are superior to Croatia.
"Still, they are a good team. I was very impressed by Modric."
Team-mate Mario Balotelli has seen his campaign sadly tarnished by allegations of racist incidents in both of Italy's Group C fixtures to date, with derogatory chants being heard against Spain and a banana allegedly thrown onto the pitch by Croatia supporters.
Nonetheless, Marchisio is expecting the 21-year-old to break through the shackles and put in his best performance yet for Italy at the European Championship against the Boys in Green.
"We see that when all is not well (with Balotelli) he keeps it all inside of him," he said.
"In my view, he should be brimming with confidence for the third game, even if he has to understand that sooner or later he may lose his chance.
"Racism? It does not take so much intelligence to realise that these things must be condemned."