Italy's coach Cesare Prandelli really did not want to face the Republic of Ireland under his old manager Giovanni Trapattoni. Prandelli played for six years under Trapattoni at Juventus and refers to the72-year-old as "his teacher", a relationship he will have to set aside when the teams meet in Poznan on 18 June.
"I had hoped to avoid meeting him because the emotion of itis so deep, he has been a huge influence on my career, I worked with him for six years as a player and many things I learned from him but some things Trapattoni kept secret, he didn't tell me everything. He is the master and I am the apprentice," Prandelli said.
"I have no problem playing against Spain or Germany or Holland – my problem is Ireland because of Trap. I like to speak with him, to learn from him and to eat with him – but not to play against him."
Prandelli has good reason to be wary because the Republic have a surprisingly good record against Italy under Trapattoni, winning once and drawing twice in his three games in charge.
Trapattoni remained unfazed. "We have a good record against them but you always worry that will change. But it is the last game. The first game is really important with Spain and Italy to follow.
"We will want to do well against Croatia, they are strong. But our spirit is good and we will be ready for it."
* Socrates, the former Brazil captain, is on a life-support machine in a São Paulo hospital after suffering from septic shock caused by an intestinal infection. A star of the 1982 and '86 World Cups, he suffered a haemorrhage in September.
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