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Thursday, 8 June, 2000, 18:05 GMT 19:05 UK
Del Piero pleads for public support
Alessandro Del Piero
A fit-again Del Piero wants a more positive attitude
Striker Alessandro del Piero has asked the Italian public for more support for the under-fire national team ahead of Euro 2000.

Italy have been criticised at home for a string of poor performances in the last year, culminating in a 1-0 defeat by Norway in Oslo.

Del Piero said: "We would do better if everyone around us was a little more positive.

"It's true that we have not been fantastic, but if you kill us with criticism it won't help us. I have the feeling that if we were given more support we would do better."

If you kill us with criticism it won't help

Alessandro Del Piero
Del Piero also struck an ominous note for opposing defenders at Euro 2000.

"I have had a good season and I'm in better shape than I was for the World Cup - I am fitter."

Heavily criticised Azzurri boss Dino Zoff also called on the snipers to judge his team after Euro 2000 and not before.

"I've seen front page headlines in great big letters saying 'Zoff folly', 'Zoff stupid', 'Zoff crazy,'" he said.

" We can't start putting the side on trial before matches. After the tournament there's a place for it, but not before."

Dino Zoff
Zoff: Under-fire after poor results
Italy have won just two of their last seven matches and lost 3-1 at home to Belgium in a friendly in November and 2-0 in Spain this March.

"Certainly we need to improve," Zoff said. "But I'm neither more optimistic or less optimistic about our chances than I was before Saturday's match."

Forward pairing

Italy play Turkey in their opening match in Arnhem on Sunday, and there will be particular interest in the forwards that Zoff picks.

Juventus marksman Filippo Inzaghi started alongside AS Roma's Francesco Totti against Norway but their respective club team mates Alessandro Del Piero and Vincenzo Montella came on in the second half.

But Zoff is refusing to divulge his team before Sunday after falling out with the Italian media.

Another headache for Zoff before Sunday's match will be the fitness of defender Alessandro Nesta, who limped out of a training session on Thursday with an injured left shin.

Italy have played down the seriousness of injury and have Ciro Ferrara as cover if the Lazio player has not recovered for the match with Turkey.

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See also:

06 Jun 00 | Italy
Zoff blasts Italian critics
01 Jun 00 | Italy
Maldini in Italian squad
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