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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

Barclays Premier League
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By ESPN Staff

Returning Lippi downplays Italian expectations

Returning Italy coach Marcello Lippi warned fans of the Azzurri not to expect an immediate turnaround in fortunes at his official unveiling on Tuesday.

Lippi, who stood down as Italy coach two years ago following a victorious World Cup campaign, has been re-appointed after the Italian Football Federation decided not to renew Roberto Donadoni's contract.

The 60-year-old Lippi insists it would be unrealistic to expect an instant return to the style of play that brought glory in 2006, and has warned that just reaching the next World Cup in South Africa in 2010 will be a tough task.

'The World Cup finals won't be easy,' said Lippi. 'And neither will the qualifiers.

'Only after we have emerged from the qualifiers can we talk about the World Cup. If we want to win the World Cup we will have to beat opponents of great quality.'

Italy have been drawn in World Cup qualifying Group Eight, alongside Bulgaria, Republic of Ireland, Cyprus, Georgia and Montenegro.

'The greatest error we can make is to think that qualification for the World Cup is a formality,' Lippi continued.

'Before everything we have a friendly on August 20 and then the qualifiers. Once we pass them we can concentrate on the World Cup, on our opponents.

'Leave me for a bit to look at the situation - to talk to the coaches and understand how to act. There's still time.

'Of course the August 20 friendly against Austria isn't fundamental. Even four years ago we started with a defeat and then you know how it turned out.'

Donadoni left his position just four days after Italy crashed out of Euro 2008 at the quarter-final stage following a penalty shoot-out defeat to Spain.

Criticism has been rife as Italy fans try to come to terms with the team's slump, but Lippi insists he will not be making any wholesale changes to the squad.

'I have returned to win,' he said. 'To experience again the feelings of the past. That of triumph, but also of unity and solidarity with all the group.

'I will recreate the squad that I left, integrating it with new players. To find solidarity today in the national team is very hard. We succeeded and that will be the task for the future.

'We need a team with a great mentality which has the ability to defend and attack with the same quality.

'It is important to understand whether in the younger national teams there are players capable of bettering the senior side.

'There are so many new names - some from the Olympics, others from the European Championships, and still others.

'We have to pad out the solid group that we all know we have.'

Lippi also slammed reports that suggested he had demanded a large fee to return to the Azzurri, insisting his priority is to add a second World Cup win to his CV.

'I haven't signed a contract yet,' he said. 'I haven't signed anything yet. I have never talked about money and stuff.

'I only said that it would give me pleasure to work again with the same people I worked with two years ago.

'I'm the same person as before. Today's there's a lot of enthusiasm to recreate the climate of two years ago. As for the rest, we'll see.'

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