Spain have motivated Italy, claims Cesar Menotti

The World Cup-winning trainer feels that La Furia Roja's style of play is inspirational to any team, and has pushed the Azzurri to improve their performance levels
Legendary Argentina coach Cesar Menotti has believes that Spain's success and brand of football has motivated other international teams.

The 73-year-old admitted that La Roja have "not been brilliant" in recent games, but nonetheless feels that Vicente del Bosque's side have inspired their peers, including their fellow Euro 2012 finalists Italy.

"Spain have been the maximum expression of how I understand this [football] should be done," Menotti told Marca.

"At the last European Championship they arrived as a breath of fresh air and ended up as a strong gale force. Their example challenged Italy to try many things.

"Spain motivate you: watching them play makes you want to imitate them. That is a good thing and that is what has happened to Italy."

Menotti was also full of praise also for an Azzurri side that he feels have exceeded expectations in reaching the final.

"Whether Spain win the tournament or not, they are no longer a surprise. But Italy are - and it's a welcome one. My grandfather was from Florence and it's the first time in my life watching how the Italian team are true to the history of Italy: respect for [a way of doing] things driven by feelings.

"Football is passion, but defending is a way of playing. Spain have had much to do with this change in Italy."

Looking ahead to the final, Menotti is especially excited to see Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo - who has been awarded Man of the Match three times at Euro 2012 - go head-to-head with Spain stars Xavi and Andres Iniesta.

"Pirlo is at an incredible level, [coach Cesare] Prandelli has given him absolute freedom. He has assumed the role and walks across the pitch with the tranquillity and experience his years have given him.

"He is the point of reference for his team and without doubt his battle with Iniesta, Xavi and the great Spanish players, is an excellent encounter."