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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lippi Chases History: WC 2010 Qualifier: Italia 2 x Montenegro 1

Image of Marcello Lippi courtesy of Paul Blank

If the Azzurri win or tie tonight, Marcello Lippi will join another Italian coaching legend, Vittorio Pozzo (il Gran Mister) at 30 consecutive games without a loss. At this juncture, Mister Lippi has 17 wins and 12 ties from his last 29 games on the Azzurri bench. The last team to defeat him was Slovenia (1 x 0) in 2004.
Mr. Pozzo is the only man to ever win two World Cups, along with an Olympic Gold Medal, consecutively. He achieved this feat in 1934, 1936, and 1938. No other coach has ever won two World Cups. Except Mister Pozzo.
Italy tops the Group 8 table with 7 points from 3 games. The Republic of Ireland is in second place with 4 points after 2 games. Montenegro, tonight's opponent at Lecce, has 2 points from 2 games. AS Roma star, Mirko Vucinic, will face a few of his Roma teammates at the Via Del Mare stadium. Kickoff will be at 2045 local time and 1845 GMT.

Probable Azzurri Lineup: 4-3-3

Zambrotta, Chiellini, Cannavaro, Dossena

De Rossi, Gattuso, Acquilani

Di Natale, Gilardino, Pepe
First Half

Two shots on target in the first two minutes by Acquilani and Gattuso was quite a difference from last Saturday. The Azzurri took the play to the Montenegrans in an aggressive fashion.

In the 8th minute, Pepe placed a nice cross that was deflected by the keeper directly into the path of Acquilani, who scored his first goal at the senior level.

In the 18th minute, on a fast counter attack, followed by a great individual movement that began at the center circle, Mirko Vucinic left-footed a shot past Amelia to equalize. But in the 28th minute, Alberto Acquilani scored again in this wide open game.

Italy was using the wings to create many opportunities. Especially with Dossena pushing up from the back to open up space in the Montenegran defense.

Second Half

A few good chances for both sides, but the Azzurri held the lead to come away with three points.

Post-game comments by Mister Lippi

"Sono contento. È la seconda partita in tre giorni e sono convinto che il Montenegro creerà molti problemi a tantissime squadre. Loro non avevano i nostri novanta minuti di sabato nella gambe... I ragazzi hanno fatto dieci giorni di lavoro splendido. Sono felicissimo, abbiamo fatto 4 punti e stiamo cercando di ricreare una squadra."

Source: La Gazzetta dello Sport, 15 October 2008.
"I am content. It is the second game in three days and I am convinced that Montenegro will create many problems for many other teams. They didn't have our 90 minutes from Saturday in their legs... The lads have had 10 splendid days of work. I am very pleased, we have 4 points and we are looking to recreate a team."

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