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Italy Drained After Hot Japanese Encounter

Italy and Japan’s thrilling 4-3 encounter at the Confederations Cup was a taxing affair for both teams.

The Samurai Blue will consider themselves desperately unlucky to have succumbed to the Azzurri, after giving the pedigreed Europeans a nasty case of Asian tremors.

Has a team ever rapped the woodwork so many times, with so much at stake, in the dying moments of tightly wound affair?

And did Japan deservedly concede a handball penalty that ripped the wind from their sails?

Perhaps the only consolation Japan can take from their heroic defeat was the wretched state it left their fortunate vanquishers in.

Italy will probably have to face Spain in the semi-finals, if La Furia Roja win Group B as expected.

And coach Cesare Prandelli admits his is a team of walking wounded, after their gritty come-from-behind win over plucky Japan, and ahead of their final group encounter against improving hosts Brazil.

“This is an interesting tournament but perhaps there should be more rest days," a relieved by drained Prandelli said last night.

"This is a very hot country and the players need more time to get their strength back."

"We are focused on how many (players) we can recover [to play against Brazil]," he added.

"The Brazil game is an important game, we can't underestimate it. So my problem is to get some of the physical fitness back. We have to play the next game with the same kind of determination and physical fitness.

"We need to reflect and think, because as usual, if you are good at imposing the right pace and pressuring opponents than you can think of using your strength throughout the game. But when you can't pressure your opponent your lack of fitness is telling."

Meanwhile, Japan boss, Alberto Zaccheroni, was left to lament what he calls the standard errors that seem to let the Samurai Blue down.

The Italian should be proud of his team’s valiant efforts, but with victory having been snatched from his grasp, he knows his players have been taught a painful lesson.

"As usual we let in one goal from a free kick and another was an own goal," Zaccheroni sighed.

"These details are a constant aspect of our matches and so we have to try and remedy these problems before next year's World Cup.

"When you face teams like Brazil, Italy or Mexico, when you make a mistake they score. These teams can teach you a lot and we must learn this lesson." 

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