Prandelli wary of Czech threat
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli described Tuesday's opponents Czech Republic as "one of the best teams in the world" ahead of their World Cup qualifying clash in Turin on Tuesday.
Italy can secure their passage to next year's finals in Brazil if they beat the Czechs while a draw would also be good enough if Bulgaria fail to win away to Malta.
But Prandelli is not taking Tuesday's opponents lightly, even though they come into the match off the back of a humbling home defeat to group outsiders Armenia.
"The Czech Republic have one of the best midfields in the world with a lot of creativity, a great ability to attack spaces and they can play several systems: the diamond formation, two withdrawn forwards or with very wide midfielders," said the former Roma and Fiorentina coach.
"I'm not being polite but that's what we analysed by watching their last few matches.
"For 35 minutes against Armenia three days ago (a 2-1 reverse), their build-up play was excellent, they just lacked a bit of luck in front of goal.
"We certainly do not think the match is already won."
Even so, Italy have totally dominated what had appeared a tricky Group B that also includes Denmark.
Even though they were held to a 0-0 draw away to the Czechs, their five wins and two draws have allowed them to stretch away from the competition, which sees four teams battling for second spot and a potential play-off place.
If the Czechs wish to be that team, they will likely need to get something from this match, yet coach Michal Bilek admits it is a tall order.
And he even claimed that this is the most difficult period of his four-year tenure at the national team helm.
"I've been under pressure several times before but this is the hardest situation I've had to contend with. But I'm staying positive," he said.
Bilek has been regularly jeered by Czech fans but he says it will be something of a relief to be on the road this time.
"Our biggest problem is the home matches. We haven't managed to pick up points," he said.
"Against Armenia we wasted our scoring opportunities."