- Associated Press - Friday, June 6, 2014

MANGARATIBA, Brazil (AP) - Italy coach Cesare Prandelli doesn’t appear the least bit concerned over the Azzurri’s poor run-up to the World Cup.

The four-time champions arrived in Brazil on Friday following two disappointing results in warmup friendlies to make it seven games without a win.

Italy was held to a 0-0 draw by Ireland in London last weekend then conceded a late goal from Luxembourg in another draw, 1-1, on Wednesday.

“I’m thinking about the work we’ve done and what still needs to be done,” Prandelli said. “When you know what to do it puts you in a state of great optimism.”

Italy landed in Rio de Janeiro then traveled by bus to their training camp in Mangaratiba at the Portobello Safari Resort - a couple of hours down the coast from Rio - where they can both practice and sleep.

A perfect pitch resembling a golf course green greeted the Azzurri for their first training session amid thick humidity.

“The setup is perfect and the training pitch is great,” Prandelli said.

“I’ve seen worse training camps!” tweeted forward Ciro Immobile, who topped the Serie A scoring list with 22 goals for Torino this past season.

Italy hasn’t won since beating the Czech Republic to qualify in September - compiling six draws and a defeat to Spain - but after reaching the final of the 2012 European Championship, Prandelli has said he believes his squad can reach the final of this tournament, too.

“The first goal is to advance. Then we’ll see,” Prandelli said. “We’ve planned for everything but planning doesn’t mean being ready. We need to get ourselves ready.”

Prandelli was asked about talented but often troubled forward Mario Balotelli.

“All I want for Mario is that he has the right continuity and plays with a free mind,” the coach said. “If he does that he’ll be in the thick of things.”

On Sunday, Italy will face local club Fluminense in its final test before opening against England on June 14. The Azzurri also face Costa Rica and two-time champion Uruguay in Group D, considered one of the tournament’s toughest.

“I’ll tell you right away that we won’t be brilliant. For many reasons, including the jet lag,” Prandelli said of the Fluminense friendly. “But I decided to go up against a competitive opponent right away to immediately get into the World Cup mood.”


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