Image of Marcello Lippi courtesy of Paul Blank and
Mister Lippi, along with 8 Juventus players, returned to Torino and the Vinovo training facility. He managed Juve during two highly successful spells where he won 5 Scudetti (Italian Championships), along with the UEFA Champions League title in 1996.
This will be his first time as an Azzurri manager at Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino. If Italy wins tonight, it will put them +4 over the Republic of Ireland with two games remaining. Their final two games in this qualification round will be at Croke Park against the Republic and former Azzurri manager, Giovanni Trapattoni. Four days later, Italy will face Cyprus on home soil.
Comments Ahead of the Game
"La sfida di domani sera può dare buone possibilità di qualificazione – dice Lippi -, è la gara più importante da un po’ di tempo a questa parte per tutti, non solo per me da quando sono di nuovo sulla panchina della Nazionale”.
"The test of tomorrow night could give us a good possibility to qualify, it is the most important game in a long time in these parts for all of us, not only for me since I returned to the National team bench.""Abbiamo qualità tecniche importanti e anche doti di altra natura. Non sentiamo la necessità del gol, arriverà come il bel gioco. Non mi interessa chi segnerà, potrebbe farlo anche Buffon di testa. Gigi è un fantasista come Messi, Kakà e Maradona. Voglio qualificarmi, per vincere mi va bene anche un rimpallo o un autogol degli avversari”.
"We have important technical qualities and also other natural gifts. We don't feel the necessity of a goal, it will arrive like beautiful play. It does not interest me who will score. It could be also Gigi Buffon on a header. Gigi is a creative talent like Messi, Kaka' and Maradona. (joking)“Berbatov gioca in una grande squadra, le sue qualità si sono evidenziate al Manchester. Ha grandi doti tecniche, sa fare gol e farlo fare. Lo abbiamo affrontato all’andata e per fermarlo ci è voluta tutta l’attenzione dei nostri difensori. La Bulgaria ha buone qualità, non ha mai perso fino ad ora e proverà con tutte le forze ad arrivare seconda nel girone."
I want to qualify, to win would also be fine with me to have a a deflection or an own goal by the opponents."
"Berbatov plays in a great team, and his qualities are evidenced at Manchester United. He has great technical gifts, and he knows how to score goals and he makes it happen. We confronted him during the first game in Bulgaria to stop him and it took full attention by our defenders. Bulgaria has good qualities, they have never lost up until now and will try with all their force to arrive second in the group."Italian Source: La Gazzetta dello Sport, 8 September 2009.
- Daniele De Rossi returns after his one game suspension.
- Claudio Marchisio is available after recovery from a slight injury and the birth of his first child.
- The Azzurri have not scored a goal since Giuseppe Rossi against the USA in the Confederations Cup (4 games ago).
- Mister Lippi's record is 7-5-3 with 2 competitive losses (Egypt and Brasil). During his first spell, he was 18-9-2 with only 1 competitive loss in 2004 at Slovenia.
- If you would like to discuss the game with other Azzurri fans, please visit Anna Italia at her site: http://italiansoccerseriea.com. She provides a live matchcast in English.
- ESPN MatchTracker (In English)
- Gazzetta dello Sport MatchView (in Italian)
Zambrotta, Cannavaro (capt), Chiellini, Grosso
De Rossi, Marchisio, Camoranesi
Manager: Mr. Lippi
Bulgaria Starting XI: 4-4-2
Manolev, Stoyanov, Angelov, Kishishev
Georgiev, Yankov, S. Petrov, M. Petrov
Berbatov (capt), Rangelov
Manager: Mr. Stoilov
Referee: Herr Mayer
This was a tale of two halves. The Azzurri came off the line firing on all cylinders. They completely dominated the game, and attacked with great efficiency. In the 11th minute, on a quick 1-2 between Andrea Pirlo and Fabio Grosso, the new Juve man volleyed his finish past a helpless Ivankov to open the scoring.
In the 39th minute, on a series of triangles, Alberto Gilardino and Vincenzo Iaquinta left the Bulgarian defenders in their wake. Iaquinta scored as the Azzurri looked like a team possessed.
Unfortunately, Italy could not maintain the pace and rhythm during the second half. Bulgaria pushed forward as the Azzurri absorbed the pressure. With a little luck, and someone other than Gigi Buffon in the Italy goal, Bulgaria may have equalized. Valeri Bojinov and Dimitar Berbatov had several fine efforts within the penalty area.
Italy goes four points ahead of the Republic of Ireland with two remaining qualifiers.
Goals: Grosso 11' and Iaquinta 39'.
Assists: Pirlo and Gilardino.
Subs for Italy: Rossi for Gilardino 58', Pepe for Marchisio 72', and D'Agostino for Iaquinta 83'.
Subs for Bulgaria: Bojinov for M. Petrov 63', Georgiv for Rangelov 63', and Domovchiyski for Yankov 73'.
- Fabio Cannavaro will miss the next qualifier in Dublin due to a yellow card he picked up in the second half.
Mister Lippi After the Game
"Primo tempo di spettacolo e divertimento. Sono contento per i ragazzi che non sono sprovveduti. C'è tanta qualità tecnica e non potevamo fare altri 4-5 gol. Nel secondo tempo abbiamo controllato, questo è un periodo della stagione in cui non siamo al massimo della condizione. Va bene così. Bene i giovani, ma anche i più "anziani" del gruppo. Con un pareggio a Dublino siamo qualificati, se disgraziatamente dovessimo perdere abbiamo il Cipro tre giorni dopo in casa".
Italian Source: La Gazzetta dello Sport, 9 September 2009.
"A first half of spectacular play and entertainment. I am glad for the lads that they weren't deprived. There was a lot of technical quality and we could have scored another 4 or 5 goals. In the second half we controlled things, this is a period of the season in which we are not at our best condition. It went well like this. The young players did well, but also the 'older' ones of the group.
With a draw in Dublin we are qualified. If regretably we lose, we have Cyprus three days later at home."
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