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By ESPN Staff
Jun 29, 2006

Lippi laughs off 'lucky Italy' tag

DUISBURG, Germany, June 29 (Reuters) - Italy coach Marcello Lippi has laughed off the claim that his team has enjoyed a slice of good luck at the World Cup.

"I'd like to say something about all this talk that we have been lucky. We had Francesco Totti ruled out for three months with injury, then (Gianluca) Zambrotta, (Gennaro) Gattuso and (Alessandro) Nesta all got injured," he told reporters.

"On top of that we have to deal with the unprecedented mess happening in Italy," he added referring to the match-fixing scandal in Serie A.

"Yeah, you can say I have been really lucky," said the Italy coach whose side will face Ukraine in Friday's quarter-final in Hamburg.

Lippi said the criticism of his team that followed the 1-0 second round win over Australia, when Italy won with a last minute penalty, had been unfair and he rejected the notion that the Azzurri had chosen a defensive approach to their games.

"I think it has been over the top. We are here at a World Cup and we have brought all our enthusiasm with us as well as millions of problems, with Totti and all the other injuries," said Lippi whose side are now unbeaten in 22 games.

"In the past year we have tried to play in a certain (attacking) way and produced some great games which were well received by everyone. Now we get this over-reaction after two or three games where we haven't played like that.

"We hear that we are regressive and old-fashioned -- I think it is over the top," said Lippi who declined to give any indications of his team line-up for the quarter-final.