Can Ireland become champs? Ask Giovanni after five games
GIOVANNI Trapattoni has identified key weaknesses which he believes will help Ireland beat Croatia in Poznan tomorrow, but don't ask him to say what they are.
"We met them in (a) friendly game. We were missing five of this team and played very, very well. We know them. They have weaknesses but I'm not saying what they are," he said.
Trapattoni is targeting the Euro 2012 opener as the key to Ireland's ability to progress but when asked whether Ireland could actually go and win the tournament, he was understandably cautious.
"It would be silly if I think that. There are too many situations which must go our way, too many variables to say that. I know that if I have to change two or three players, the team will be the same but what if I lost Richard Dunne? No, it would be silly to say that but it's a dream!
"The dream is not forgotten. It's an easy dream but reality is 90 minutes. Ask me again after five games," he said with a grin.
Trapattoni believes that he now has his squad at the required pitch and that his back-up players are more than ready to step in if required to.
"The players are ready behind the 11 I have picked. I see them train and they are well. They train with a great tempo and enthusiasm.
"They now have our habit and our system. So I am not afraid to make changes if they are needed. It is important for the energy for the next game. I need to preserve this energy."
Trapattoni celebrated the return of Shay Given to full training and, presumably, full fitness with a big sigh of relief in advance of tomorrow's Euro 2012 opener against Croatia.
"It was important that Shay trained. I had no doubt he could play but it was good to see him training," he said, clearly gaining the same consolation from that as the rest of the nation.
Reminded that he is the oldest coach in the tournament's history, a glint came into Trapattoni's eyes.
"I can start a game now if you want," he said and, in truth, he looks fit enough to give a decent half if not a full 90.
"If I go back 50 years, I would be ready to start immediately."
Trapattoni definitely lost the plot briefly in Budapest and while he has not recovered the sense of well-being and happiness he had among his own in Montecatini, he does look a lot calmer than he did after the 0-0 draw against Hungary.
Trapattoni, for all his ability to wreak havoc in four languages (French, German, Italian and English), is not often flustered by events or journalists like he was in Budapest that night.
But after a few days collective rest for the squad, he finds himself rising nicely towards the pitch he believes is necessary to keep his players on their work and on target.
"I am not agitated, a little tense maybe and that is a good thing. The tension level must be maintained because the players will drop if I show that I am not ready. It is positive tension and very important."