Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Jay Scardina On March - 23 - 2011

Italy International Preview: Slovenia and Ukraine

Now that we know the squad that Cesare Prandelli is taking with him it is time to discuss the matches coming up. Italy have two games within a 4 day stretch, and they will be the away side for both games. However, there is a big difference between the two games. One is a Euro Qualifier that, with a win, could send Italy to a very safe place in group C and the other is an international friendly. So far Italy have not lost a qualification match. They have only tied once, and have only allowed one goal so far in the group stage. It looks like the old Italian defense is coming into play, but Slovenia know that they can really challenge Italy for the top spot in the group with a win or a draw.

This will be the first time that Italy and Slovenia have played each other in the group stage. Both teams have won their last qualifying matches, although it should be noted that Italy was awarded the win against Serbia because of the Serbian fans rioting. Slovenia won their last match against Estonia due to an own goal. However, Slovenia have only payed one match so far in the group stage where they have scored more than one goal, and that was against the Faroe Islands where they scored 5 goals back in October. In that game Tim Matavz scored a hat trick, and he currently leads the team with the most goals. There are reports that Tim Matavz is carrying an injury, but he has been called up to play. I think that Italy’s defense has improved since Prandelli took over, and players like Giorgio Chiellini and Christian Maggio should be able to contain Slovenia’s forwards. In the friendly against Germany they only conceded one goal, and rallied back for a tie.

I also think that is safe to say that Gianluigi Buffon will be Italy’s first choice for goalkeeper as he put in a strong performance in the Germany match. Antonio Cassano will lead the charge up front, but it may be a toss up as to who will play along side him. Giampaolo Pazzini seems like a likely choice, but we may see the return of Alberto Gilardino. Italy’s forwards will not only have to break the Slovenian defense, but also make it past their keeper, Samir Handanovic, who kept a clean sheet in their last qualification match. Slovenia has conceded one goal in each of their last 3 qualifiers, so this could be a weakness that the midfield and forwards could exploit. In their last 3 qualification matches Slovenia have also scored at least one goal, so this may be a game where Italy will need to score at least two goals to seal a victory. If Italy take the win they will lead the group with 13 points and make it difficult for the other teams in the group to catch up to them. A loss would make Slovenia and Italy tied for first place, but I don’t see Slovenia pulling out a win. Even though their team has a young roster of players they struggle against more experienced sides. I think that the worst case scenario for Italy in this match is a tie.

Italy’s next match is a friendly against one of the host countries for the Euro 2012 Tournament, Ukraine. This will be more of a test for the Ukraine than for Italy in my opinion. The last 3 matches that the Ukrainian national team played ended in ties, and the last two went to penalties, and although the Ukraine won the host country still will want to put in a strong performance for the home fans. I think that Prandelli will use this game to try out some players that will be on the bench for the Slovenia match, to get them some time on the field and gauge their performance more than anything else. Young players like Davide Santon, Giuseppe Rossi and Sebastian Giovinco, may see more of the field in this game. With the the match being so close to the Slovenian match, I don’t see Prandelli putting in key players who either put in a strong performance or who may be needed at the their club for important matches.

I think it will be a more friendly game than the one against Germany. Prandelli will more than likely stick to his 4-3-1-2 formation for both matches. Both games though will be important as Prandelli keeps trying new and experienced players while trying to find the right chemistry between the two . Although the Euro Qualifier against Slovenia is more important, a strong performance in a friendly is always well received. All eyes will be on the coach since Italy has only played one match this year, and their last two friendly matches ended in draws. Italian fans want to see the team dominate the group and prove that they will put up a fight in 2012.

  • George

    it is Ukraine - not The Ukraine….

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