Zambrotta unfazed by critics

Italy motivated by negative comments

Zambrotta: Motivated by critics

Italy midfielder Gianluca Zambrotta is taking any criticism aimed towards the reigning world champions with a pinch of salt.

The 33-year-old has laughed off suggestions the squad are aging and has warned critics to expect a bold show.

He says the team are getting used to being branded an 'old side' and insists such comments only motivate them to do better.

"We are used to criticism," said Zambrotta. "It doesn't affect us. On the contrary, it unites us and creates a team spirit.

"We are not worried about it, it only motivates us."

Keeping it tight

Meanwhile, Italy skipper Fabio Cannavaro says the squad must rediscover their defensive element if they are to successfully defend their crown.

The 36-year-old, who has 133 caps for his country, says defence is key in the competition, as are goals.

"Defence is vital but that doesn't mean we'll stay in our own half of the pitch," said the Italy skipper.

"It means being compact. We'll never play an attacking game like Brazil, Portugal or Spain but they'll never be able to defend like us."

Cannavaro admitted his squad lacks the quality of old, when the likes of Roberto Baggio, Francesco Totti and Alessandro Del Piero menaced Italy's opposition.

But he defended Azzurri's current string, saying: "A superstar is not just about technique, it's also about how a player can get his team out of certain situations in a match.

"And we've got players who can do that like (Antonio) Di Natale, (Vincenzo) Iaquinta or (Alberto) Gilardino.

"Of course we don't have a (Lionel) Messi, (Wayne) Rooney or Cristiano Ronaldo.

"But in 2006 we had great players who weren't on the top of their game, it was the group as a whole that won."