Prandelli: Just the beginning
Most expected Italy to lose in the face of a flying German side but Cesare Prandelli's side ripped up the form book and their Euro 2012 dream is only just beginning, according to their coach.
"When you dream, you always dream big. This is the beginning of the dream," Prandelli said after an impressive 2-1 victory over Germany in their semi-final set up a showpiece showdown with Spain on Sunday.
The margin of victory flattered a German side who scored with a stoppage-time penalty and Italy could have buried their opponents in the second half but for a hatful of missed chances.
For Prandelli however the victory was in no way comfortable, the 54-year-old hugely grateful that Germany never found their game to prolong the match.
"Had they drawn level I think we would have lost 5-2 in extra time because we were knackered," Prandelli said matter-of-factly.
The reason they were so tired is they had given their all to swarm around a German side who had won every competitive game they had played since the last World Cup.
Italy also broke up field at will in the second half.
"We've always tried to play football from the outset of the tournament, that's our strength. I think we showed that this evening," the coach added.
"We tried to knock the ball round the midfield. I always wanted to propose this style."
What Prandelli has set out to achieve he has done and more while his no-nonsense approach to unruly characters in the team such as two-goal matchwinner Mario Balotelli has clearly paid off.
When talk turned to the manager's special touch, Prandelli just lauded his team's efforts in reaching the final despite entering the tournament in poor form and in the shadow of another domestic match-fixing scandal.
"I'm very proud of these young players. I don't want it to be about me. Germany are young and very good but we have a lot of ideas. I think we prepared very well for this game," he said.
Prandelli famously walked 21 kilometres in the middle of the night with his backroom team and federation vice president to a monastery after qualifying for the quarter-finals but there was no hint of a celebratory air after the Germany upset.
"We have no time to celebrate. I've not given that a lot of thought," said Prandelli when asked how far he might walk if Italy beat holders Spain in Sunday's final in Kiev.