Cesare Prandelli released his 23-man roster for the key Euro 2012 qualification matches against Northern Ireland and Serbia. The Azzurri top the Group C table with six points after two games in a ten-game qualification round.
Prandelli included a few new faces as seems to be the pattern of his young tenure as Azzurri boss.
Gianluca Zambrotta in action against Slovakia
in South Africa.
Gianluca Zambrotta returns to the fold after the South African disappointment. Stefano Mauri of Lazio and Domenico Criscito of Genoa also received call-ups. Marco Borriello was selected over the Juventus trio of Amauri, Vincenzo Iaquinta and Fabio Quagliarella.
Mirante (Parma ), Sirigu (Palermo), Viviano (Bologna).
Cassani (Palermo), Zambrotta (Milan), Bonucci (Juventus), Bovo (Palermo), Chiellini (Juventus), Gastaldello (Sampdoria), Antonelli (Parma) injured replaced by Molinaro (Stuttgart), Criscito (Genoa).
De Rossi (Roma), Lazzari (Cagliari), Marchisio (Juventus), Mauri (Lazio), Palombo (Sampdoria), Pirlo (Milan), Pepe (Juventus).
Cassano (Sampdoria), Gilardino (Fiorentina) injured replaced by Floccari (Lazio), Pazzini (Sampdoria), Borriello (Roma), Rossi (Villarreal).
Courtesy of La Gazzetta dello Sport, 3 October 2010.
Fixtures for Group C
- Friday, 8 October: Northern Ireland 0 x Italy 0 from Windsor Park in Belfast.
- Friday, 8 October: Slovenia 5 x Faroe Islands 1 from Ljubljana.
- Friday, 8 October: Serbia 1 x Estonia 3 from Belgrade.
- Tuesday, 12 October: Faroe Islands x Northern Ireland from Toftir.
- Tuesday, 12 October: Estonia x Slovenia from Tallinn.
- Tuesday, 12 October: Italy x Serbia from the Luigi Ferraris in Genoa.
Group C Table
Italy: 7 points after 3 games.
Estonia: 6 points after 3 games.
Northern Ireland: 4 points after 2 games.
Serbia: 4 points after 3 games.
Slovenia: 4 points after 3 games.
Faroe Islands: 0 points after 4 games.
"The qualifying round is made up of nine groups of five or six teams, who contest home and away fixtures. The section winners and runners-up with the best record against the top five in their group progress automatically. The remaining eight second-placed sides contest two-legged play-offs, with the victors joining the hosts to complete the lineup for the final tournament."Text courtesy of UEFA.com.
- Nine teams will qualify directly.
- One team with the best second-place performance will qualify directly.
- Four teams will qualify from the play-offs.
- The tournament will increase to 24 teams for the 2016 edition.
Cassani, Bonucci, Chiellini, Criscito
De Rossi, Pirlo (capt.), Mauri
Pepe, Borriello, Cassano.
"Sto cercando di creare un gruppo, di dare un’anima a questa squadra. Anche con otto giocatori, tra i titolari, provenienti da club diversi".
"I'm looking to create a group to give a soul to this team. Even with eight players, among the starting XI, from different club sides."--- Cesare Prandelli quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport on 7 October 2010.
The Pride of Belfast: George Best, Legend
Northern Ireland Starting XI: 3-5-2
Craigan, Baird, Hughes (capt.), McAuley, Evans
McCann, Davis, Brunt
Manager: Mr. Worthington
Match Official: Mr. Chapron of France
Italy has faced Northern Ireland seven times. Their last meeting was a 3 - 0 friendly win in 2009 in Italy. Italy's only loss was in January 1958 at this same ground which represented Northern Ireland's first World Cup qualification at Italy's cost. It was known as "The Battle of Belfast."
In front of a raucous Belfast crowd of about 14,000, the Azzurri had the majority of the early ball possession. They looked crisp and much more organized defensively than in the past two matches.
Domenico Criscito had the first goal-scoring opportunity for Italy in the 13th minute. He sped down the left wing and had the keeper beat, but the shot went just past the second pole. There was a good pace to the game and fair play from both sides. Stefano Mauri was moving well in his first Azzurri start, and the team on a whole was compact.
In the 30th minute, David Healy had a great chance to put the Irish ahead, but his header was weak with the keeper, Viviano, beaten. Almost immediately after this play, Borriello almost scored but Taylor made a great save. On the rebound, Cassano tried to bend the ball around the right side of the Irish defense, and almost scored. The intensity of the match increased significantly.
In injury time, De Rossi took a perfect set-up pass by Cassano but blasted the ball wide right. The half ended, 0 x 0.
There was more pace and urgency by both teams. Italy did not look threatening and Northern Ireland were the more dangerous side on the break. Borriello failed to finish two easy chances. But the second half had Antonio Cassano's name written all over it. He provided three great assists to Pirlo, Pepe and Pazzini. All three failed to score. Then Cassano headed a shot that was saved by Taylor. At the death, Davis had Northern Ireland's best chance for the three points, but the shot was saved by Viviano. The game ended, 0 x 0. Italy remains top of the table after Serbia's loss at home to Estonia. But they will rue their lack of finishing, and leaving two points at Windsor Park despite a good effort by Northern Ireland.
Prandelli After the Game Live with RAI Sport
"I wanted to win. I'm not disappointed. It was a difficult place to play...Prandelli at the Post-match News Conference
We played well for 90 minutes, but we need to be more precise in front of goal."
"Abbiamo mantenuto un buon equilibrio per tutti i 90 minuti, ma soprattutto mi è piaciuta la voglia di andare a far gol. Cassano? Mi è piaciuta la sua prestazione, come quella di Borriello, che ha lottato. Da un punto di vista globale sono contento, ma dovevamo essere un po' più precisi negli ultimi metri: quando siamo sottoporta dobbiamo avere più cattiveria per far gol".
"We maintained a good balance for the whole 90 minutes, but above all, I liked the desire to push forward for goals. Cassano? I liked his presentation, like that of Borriello, who fought. From an overall perspective, I am pleased, but we could have been a little more precise in the last passes. When we are in the goal mouth, we must be more cunning to score goals."Italian text courtesy of La Gazzetta dello Sport, 8 Oct. 2010.
- Giuseppe Rossi came on for the last 7 minutes. I thought that Prandelli kept Borriello on too long, and Rossi should have been a part of the mix much earlier. Cassano needs his type of pace as a complement. Borriello looked very sluggish.
- Borriello and Pazzini have scored one goal between them for the national team. This continues a worrying recent trend for Italian strikers (Antonio Di Natale, Vincenzo Iaquinta and Luca Toni also come to mind.) They don't replicate their domestic league form on an international level.
- Serbia will be a derby of sorts and a must-win for the visitors who are on four points after three qualifiers. Dejan Stankovic plays for Inter, and new Juventus revelation, Milos Krasic, will face many of his club teammates.
Northern Ireland Italy
|5(2)||Shots (on Goal)||16(6)|
|48%||Time of Possession||52%|
Courtesy of ESPN Soccernet.
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