Friday, 16 November 2007

Donadoni not fazed

Italy coach Roberto Donadoni fired off a warning shot to his critics ahead of the crunch Euro 2008 qualifier with Scotland at Hampden Park on Saturday.

The Azzurri go into the match against Scotland third in Group B, two points behind leaders France and one behind Alex McLeish's side.

A draw would leave Scotland needing Ukraine to beat France next Wednesday while the World champions would only require a win against the Faroe Islands in Modena to qualify for next summer's finals in Austria and Switzerland.

However, a Scotland win would leave Italy and France fighting for the second qualification spot, with Donadoni under pressure to keep his job if they fail to make the finals in Switzerland.

Asked if the game against the Scots was a defining moment for himself, the former AC Milan star said: "We have two matches left, Scotland have one match left. Where I was brought up, they say you have to have received a death certificate before you are declared dead.

"There is no need to ask the players how they can mess up at a stadium like Hampden or in a game of this importance. What is important is to look the players in the eyes and see that they know what is expected of them. If we are not ready for this game then we will never be ready for any game.

"We are aware that we are meeting opponents who will use their ability, aggression, spirit and the backing of the crowd. But they are 11 players of flesh and bone just like us. We will use our determination and ability to get a result.

"It has been a good week for team rapport. Now it is down to the players. It doesn't matter who plays, what matters is the determination to make the effort, to run, to get back in the game if you make mistakes. I have 24 players of the same level, we all win or we all lose together."

Donadoni was respectful of Scotland's two unlikely victories over France earlier in the section which turned Group B on its head.

He said: "Sometimes you have more or less luck but if they beat France twice then it was deserved. But to qualify takes more than two games."

Defender Massimo Oddo, who hurt his foot during Italy's last training session at Coverciano before leaving with the team for Glasgow, looks to have recovered but he is set to be replaced by Christian Panucci in the starting line-up.

Barcelona full-back Gianluca Zambrotta has fully recovered from a minor knee problem and trained at Hampden Park this evening with the rest of the squad.

The Azzurri welcome back captain Fabio Cannavaro, who missed last month's qualifier against Georgia through suspension.

Cannavaro will play alongside Palermo's Andrea Barzagli in central defence. AC Milan trio Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo and Massimo Ambrosini are likely to form the Azzurri's midfield with Luca Toni leading the attack.

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