Italy coach Devis Mangia has described Tuesday night's European Under-21 Championship final against Spain as the 'most important game of our lives' and insists he is not bothered about being considered underdogs for the clash in Jerusalem.
Defending champions Spain have been in formidable form in the tournament so far, winning all four of their games without conceding a goal, and are considered favourites to win their fourth Under-21 crown. Mangia knows the Spanish demand respect, but he has also warned their much-vaunted opponents - who are unbeaten in their last 25 competitive matches - that Italy are not settling for just reaching the final.
He said on www.uefa.com: "Spain have a great team and I don't mind if they are favourites. However, from kick-off we start at 0-0 with 11 players on each side. I looked into the eyes of my players yesterday and no one is satisfied with just reaching the final. The players will all contribute and do their best."
He added: "There is no doubt about this in my mind, you just need to look at us to see the desire. Italy have a chance to win because in the past in different competitions the less favoured team has won. Perfection does not exist in football.
"Reaching the final is just the result of the dream that started on October 16," added Mangia, referring to the play-off victory over Sweden that secured Italy's place in Israel.
"I never wanted to talk about numbers, positions or rankings, but now we're going to play the most important game of our lives."
Spain, meanwhile, lost Sergio Canales to a hamstring problem early on and have a fitness doubt over Ignacio Camacho as they look claim back-to-back titles while possibly becoming the first side to complete five successive clean sheets in one finals competition.
Coach Julen Lopetegui said: "Italy are a very difficult team to play against. They have a lot of strong defensive players but they have good attacking players as well. They are also a physical side with good tactics.
"Italy are a good team but we still have our quality and we are playing well. We need to work and play as I know we can - and to play as a team.
"The final is in our hands."