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May 27, 2017

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Italy must avoid falling into Irish trap

KRAKOW, Poland -- Giovanni Trapattoni may be a proud Italian but he knows he has a professional duty as Ireland's coach to try his hardest to deny Italy a passage into the Euro 2012 quarterfinals on Monday.

Italian media is obsessed with fears Spain and Croatia will play out a 2-2 draw in the other Group C game and knock out the Azzurri even if they beat the Irish in Poznan.

Such is 73-year-old Trapattoni's standing in the game, though, that no one is questioning his loyalties.

Ireland have been eliminated after two heavy Group C defeats and Monday's swansong in the final group match could be the last major tournament appearance for the likes of 31-year-old Robbie Keane who will not want to bow out with a whimper.

Trapattoni, who managed Italy at Euro 2004 when they suspected a never-proved fix when Denmark and Sweden drew 2-2 to eliminate them, will make sure his troops are motivated despite only having pride to play for.

"It would not be fair to the other countries in the group if I did not select my best team," said Trapattoni. "With this team, and these players, I am proud."

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli is sure Ireland and Spain will be totally professional.

"I know we have to believe right until the end. I don't believe in any suspect goings on," Prandelli said. "It all depends on us, we need to deserve the win, it won't be easy."

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