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Rocco Cammisola On October - 5 - 2011

Serbia - Italy Rematch In Euro 2012 Qualification

On Friday, Italy will travel to Belgrade to play Serbia in their penultimate Euro 2012 qualification match. The game comes just under a year since the events in Genoa on 12 October 2021 which saw Serbian hooligans forcing the game to be called off, and leading to harsh punishments being meted out against the Serbian National team.

The Italians have come a long way since then and under Cesare Prandelli have secured qualification swiftly - Italy’s best ever performance in qualifying in fact - but there are no indications that they will be treating these two games as friendlies, there is still pride and places to be won for many players.

Serbian winger Milos Krasic has confirmed Italy’s intentions echoing the words of his Juventus team mates: “the coach Prandelli will try a number of formations, but will treat the game with a great deal of seriousness”. The initial squad called up for the games contained the usual names, but two surprises were also thrown into the mix. Juventus centre back, Andrea Barzagli was called up for the first time in three years.

Barzagli, a World Cup winner, has since moving back to Italy last January has shown great professionalism and reliability when called upon for a once disastrous Juventus back line. He paid homage to his club team mates saying “I owe a lot to Juve for being here, I’m delighted. I decided to return to Italy purely because of the importance of the club.”

Atalanta midfielder Luca Cigarini has also earned a surprise call up with some splendid displays for La Dea, the call up appears to have come as a surprise to the midfielder himself. “I didn’t think about it” Cigarini commented, before thanking his club “I’m interpreting this call up as a reward for my own performances but also as recognition of what Atalanta have done this season.”

In reality neither Barzagli or Cigarini are likely to play, but their inclusion while others are injured will hopefully encourage them - rather than fill with false hope - that they could still play a part next summer.

There have been a number of injuries which may force the coach into a round of reinforcement call ups. Domenico Criscito has returned to Zenit and then Giampaolo Pazzini and Federico Balzaretti are doubts for Tuesday’s game as both are carrying injuries. Then to rub salt deep into the wounds, during yesterday’s friendly with an U21 Lega Pro representative side Giuseppe Rossi and Mario Balotelli both pulled up with problems. A race back to full fitness is on now.

One player who is in a good vein of form at the moment and could really stake a claim for a seat on the plane to the finals tournament is Sebastian Giovinco. The diminutive second striker is currently joint top scorer in Serie A having scored 5 out of Parma’s 6 goals so far this season - a vital contribution, frankly. The player must take his chances to show he can be a valuable asset for the National team, either as a second striker or trequartista.

In games where Italy have struggled to break down sides there has been a lack of guile and creativity, Giovinco could still be the man to provide this either as a starter or from the bench. The coach certainly has high hopes for the Parma man, saying “But I prefer to talk about [Sebastian] Giovinco. All that was missing from his game was coolness in front of goal and now he is showing that as well. He can be the most important player this year on the Italian football scene.”

Of course Serbia need to win the game to maintain their chances of a play off place in Group C, sadly for the Balkan nation in 86 years of matches between Italy and Serbia (or formerly Yugoslavia), the Serbians have won just four times - the most recent win was a 4-1 demolition way back on 13 June 2021 in Zagreb. The Serbians will most likely hang their hopes on a straight play off with Slovenia for 2nd place, while the Azzurri will continue to dazzle their way to Poland and Ukraine next June.

Rocco Cammisola

Rocco is a football writer who follows football in England and Italy for a number of sites, including his own - The Football Express (.co.uk). Most of his writing focuses on the lesser talked about teams, attempting to bring them to the world's attention.

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  • anthony

    who ever wrote this article clearly knows nothing about Italy. It was zaccardo who scored an own goal against the United States during the 2006 world cup. How stupid can you be?

    • SerieAWeekly

      thanks for catching that error Anthony, rewrite by the author to exclude the, well, f-up.

  • babi

    It was Zaccardo who scored the own goal in the game against the USA, not Barzagli.

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