Wednesday, 3 June 2009

[Euro U21] Casiraghi targets Euro success

Italy Under-21 coach Pierluigi Casiraghi has stated that his players have to prove their worth by gaining results at the UEFA European Under-21 Championship finals.

Pierluigi CasiraghiA 23-man final squad, announced on Monday, gathered in Rome's La Borghesiana sports centre today to start preparations for the final tournament, which takes place in Sweden between 15 to 29 June.

The five-time European champions are installed as one of the tournament favourites and are tipped to qualify from their group, which contains Belarus, Serbia and hosts Sweden.

"On paper it does not count to be strong," Casiraghi told a press conference. "We will have to demonstrate our strength on the field and to do that, we have to win."

Casiraghi's men will kick off their campaign for a sixth European crown against Serbia on June 16 at the Olympia Stadium in Helsingborg, where Italy will play all three of their Group A matches.

Two years ago the Azzurrini were beaten in their opening game - by the Serbs - and Casiraghi believes it is crucial to start on the right foot this time.

"The first game against Serbia will be essential," he said. "We will do everything to win, but we can't lose."

Italy will then take on the hosts Sweden on June 19, before concluding the group stage against Belarus four days later.

England, Finland, Germany and Spain make up Group B, with the two group winners and two group runners-up progressing through to the semi-final stage.

"Our section is evenly balanced, but I can count on my group of players to do well," Casiraghi continued. "They have over the past three years grown technically and improved greatly.

"Now it is the time to reap the rewards of their hard work."

Casiraghi has been under-fire following the team's failure to qualify from the group stage in the 2007 competition and their shock quarter-final exit at the Olympic Games last year, but he says there is no pressure.

"I won't declare a minimum target that we have to achieve in this tournament," he added. "I think all the teams participating in the finals are starting with the goal to win."

Before departing for their tournament base in Helsingborg on June 13, the squad will fly out to Scandinavian neighbours Denmark on Monday for a week-long training camp and a friendly test against their Danish counterparts on June 9 in Farum.

[UEFA Euro U21 Championships 2009]

Source: FIGC

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