Friday, 27 March 2009

[Azzurri] Lippi concentrating on Montenegro

Italy coach Marcello Lippi has told his players that failure is not an option when they take on Montenegro in a FIFA World Cup qualifier in Podgorica on Saturday night.

Marcello LippiThe Azzurri go into their Group Eight showdown level on 10 points with the Republic of Ireland at the top of the standings after four games.

With Ireland facing Bulgaria this weekend before travelling to Bari to meet Italy on Wednesday, Lippi said: "Saturday's game is very important for us. We absolutely want to take three points home."

The World champions will be without Bayern Munich striker Luca Toni and Fiorentina frontman Alberto Gilardino due to injuries. Lippi is expected to unveil a more attacking line-up which includes Antonio Di Natale, Vincenzo Iaquinta and Giuseppe Rossi.

With Gennaro Gattuso, Mauro Camoranesi and Simone Perrotta missing, Sampdoria's Angelo Palombo is expected to earn his first start with the senior side as he is set to partner Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi in Italy's midfield line.

Italy welcome back Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who missed the last two qualifiers with a shoulder injury.

Despite being the underdogs, and having played just three competitive international games, Lippi says Montenegro should not be underestimated.

"This game will be an historic occasion for them," Lippi said. "It's normal that they will be eager to beat the World champions.

"But we will simply have to show what the difference between the two sides is on the pitch.

"We need to be careful because Montenegrin players have good technical quality and they will play the game of their lives."

Montenegro have yet to clinch their first win in qualifying, with draws against Bulgaria and Ireland. They suffered a 2-1 defeat in their last game at Italy in Lecce last year.

Montenegro will be without their captain Mirko Vucinic, Roma's top scorer with nine goals, who must serve a one-match ban.

Fiorentina's 19-year-old Stevan Jovetic and Sporting Lisbon's attacking midfielder Simon Vukcevic will have greater roles in the former Yugoslav republic's attack.

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