Italian soccer set for big wins: Coach

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Giovanni Trapattoni believes that his Italy side has undergone a marked improvement since being knocked out of the 2002 World Cup.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:05 IST
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As a player and club manager, there isn't much that Giovanni Trapattoni hasn't won during his career. But following successful spells in charge of Juventus, Inter Milan and Bayern Munich, Trapattoni is now seeking success on an international level. Trapattoni's first major tournament as the coach of the Azzurri was the 2002 World Cup, where Italy were knocked out by co-hosts South Korea. The squad learned invaluable lessons from that controversy filled campaign though and 64-year-old Trapattoni believes that his team is all the more stronger for it. "During the last World Cup we went through a lot of physical problems with many players off form. Today those players have improved, an example is Totti. They have a stronger personality and more consciousness of their own role. The defender are the same, (Alessandro) Nesta and (Fabio) Cannavaro, but we have found many young and fresh players for the turnover, who are able to give a great help to the team," said Trapattoni. Home team favourite Italy last won the European Championship in 1968, but Trapattoni's team are amongst the favourites to succeed at this year's tournament in Portugal. A collection of powerful footballing nations stand between Italy and the silverware though. "The home team is always favourite. Portugal has very good individuals and even a good teamwork. It has very prestigious players who will do their best, I'm talking about Rui Costa and Figo, just the two most famous names. But we can not forget England, Germany, Spain and Netherlands. In the long term they will be the teams really able to reach the final games," he added. Trapattoni won a Scudetto, or Italian league title, and the UEFA Cup during his reign as manager at Inter Milan. As one of Europe's most experienced coaches, Trapattoni's services are much desired by a number of clubs, including English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur. Italy will face Denmark, Sweden and Bulgaria in their Euro 2004 Group matches. If they do advance to the quarter-final stage of the competition then Trapattoni's side will be halfway to winning a major international trophy for the first time since 1982, when Italy beat West Germany to win the World Cup. (AP)