Tuesday 10 June 2008

Toni predicts Italian renaissance

Luca Toni headed an early chance wide

Italy's Luca Toni is confident the Azzurri will bounce back from their opening humbling by the Netherlands when they face Romania in their second Group C fixture on Friday. "We usually play our best in do-or-die games – now we'll have to do it again," said the FC Bayern München striker.

'Very disappointed'
It was 30 years since Italy had lost to the Dutch, and never by a 3-0 scoreline. Toni headed a 12th-minute chance wide, after which the Oranje took control and triumphed thanks to goals from Ruud van Nistelrooy, Wesley Sneijder and Giovanni van Bronckhorst. "We were very disappointed after the game but we looked into each others' eyes and all of us know perfectly what there is at stake in our next game against Romania," said the 31-year-old.

'Think positive'
"We started badly and defended too deeply in the first half. Then they scored from their first chance and everything became more difficult for us because they have great pace on the counterattack. It wasn't our night. However, we have to forget this game quickly and start to think about the next two. With two good results we will go through - we have to think positive."

Greater threat
Italy looked more threatening following the second-half introductions of Alessandro Del Piero, Fabio Grosso and Antonio Cassano, with Toni culpable of missing one clear opportunity and Netherlands No1 Edwin van der Sar equal to the others. Toni added: "We created a few chances but couldn't take them to bring the match back to life. Cassano played a great ball for me but when I tried a lob it was a disaster. Now we have a few days to understand what went wrong and to try to play a great game against Romania."

Buffon sorry
Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, handed the captaincy following the injury to Fabio Cannavaro, added: "We have to apologise to every Italian fan. We played very badly and deserved to lose. We can only congratulate the Netherlands on their performance. I hope we recover our usual pride for the next game."