SOCCER-EURO-ITALY-PRANDELLI:Euro - Italy have quality to test Spain: Prandelli
By Simon Evans
KIEV (Reuters) - Italy have the quality in central midfield to take on Spain and challenge their usual domination of possession in Sunday's Euro 2012 final, coach Cesare Prandelli said.
"I hope we can be positive and take the game to them," he told a news conference on Saturday ahead of the game at the Olympic Stadium.
"Our first aim will be to shut down space and win the ball. Where we try to win the ball will depend on us and also how good Spain are. For us, it is important to remain focused on our target - close the space in the central midfield.
"Our central midfield has a lot of quality, we can cover a lot of ground and press in that area and we have a great player who can raise the level of the game and can get in the right position - and of course that is Andrea Pirlo," he said.
The Italy coach said the key to the game would be found in vital moments where Italy hoped to get an extra player free.
"We have to pick our moments so that we can have a numerical superiority in certain areas of the field, we don't expect to be in charge of the game from the outset," he said.
Prandelli agreed that European and world champions Spain deserved all the plaudits they have received in recent years.
"They are the best team in the world they have shown that over the last few years, they have played their own way and stuck true to their philosophy and we have always said they are the team to beat," he said, adding that he did not expect any surprises in Spain's approach.
"I expect the usual Spain side, a brave side who can keep the ball but also press you, they are one of the sides that have conceded the least in the tourney and even without a central striker they can still get into space, they try and get behind the defenders, and play modern football that I enjoy watching," he said.
Prandelli was dismissive of the reaction from some that Spain have become boring to watch.
"I don't think it is about boredom, it is fear of seeing the same side always winning. I don't think they are boring in any way, shape or form."
Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was full of praise for the Spanish.
"They have had a fantastic four to six years and they have dominated world football. I would pay them a lot of compliments but it is good to come up against the best teams," said Buffon.
Asked, if he was so sure of Spain's greatness why he felt Italy could win, the Juventus keeper said: "Listen sometimes in sport what is fair and unfair, isn't always clear.
"Perhaps they have a bigger chance than us, they have lot of quality and they shown it for four years - but we have been the surprise of the tournament, hopefully we can continue to produce surprises."
(Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Justin Palmer)