Tuesday, 20 November 2007

[Italy v Faroe Islands] Match Preview

Italy can afford to rotate their squad for Wednesday's final Euro 2008 Group B game at home to the Faroe Islands having secured qualification thanks to Saturday's 2-1 win in Scotland.

A victory at the Stadio Alberto Braglia in Modena over the bottom side would secure top spot in the group ahead of already qualified France but events in the stands and outside the stadium may be of more interest that action on the pitch.

The match will be the first professional game played in Italy since riots in Rome a week last Sunday following the shooting dead of a Lazio fan by a police officer.

All Serie B and C games were postponed last weekend as a mark of respect for the dead man with authorities also busy tightening security ahead of the resumption of action.

No trouble is expected in the northern city of Modena, especially with the Faroes bringing very few fans, but police will still be on guard given the recent violence aimed at them.

On the pitch coach Roberto Donadoni is likely to tinker with his line-up, if only to avoid the anger of Serie A bosses should any injuries occur in a meaningless match.

Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon may be rested while Juventus winger Raffale Palladino could be handed a debut. His club colleague Vincenzo Iaquinta is also pushing for a start upfront after coming on as a substitute in Glasgow.

Donadoni has accomplished the mission of getting his team to the European championship with one game to spare, no small feat considering the pressure he was under after replacing Marcello Lippi.

During the qualifying campaign, there were calls for him to move aside in the Italian media.

"This squad has fully deserved this qualification," said Italian Football Federation (FIGC) President Giancarlo Abete. "Had we failed to achieve this aim, we would have been depressed for 10 months.

"We have to say thanks to a united group of players and to a coach who has made it possible. We will try to continue on this road with him for as long as possible."

Beating France to first place will be the icing on the cake although Donadoni has more ambition than that. Italy lead the group, one point clear of France, who take on Ukraine on Wednesday.

"I now imagine the European Championship as being less easy than the World Cup," said Donadoni. "We will go there with our usual ambition, to play for the win. This is my mentality, for my team to go out on the pitch trying to get the best possible result.

"My dream is to create a team that has a winning mentality and can think big."

Italy have just two friendlies against the Netherlands and Spain so far pencilled in before June's finals in Austria and Switzerland so Donadoni may use the Faroes game to look at different tactics.

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