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EC Qualification

  • September 6, 2011
  • • 19:45
  • • Stadio Artemio Franchi, Firenze
  • Referee: S. Moen
  • • Attendance: 18000
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Euro 2012 Qualifier Preview: Italy - Slovenia

Euro 2012 Qualifier Preview: Italy - Slovenia

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The hosts look to seal their place in next year's European Championships by picking up an invaluable three points against a Slovenian side gunning for the runners-up spot


PROBABLE LINE-UPS

Italy (4-3-1-2): Buffon; Cassani, Ranocchia, Chiellini, Criscito; Pirlo, De Rossi, Motta; Montolivo; Cassano, Rossi


It is likely that La Nazionale will make a change in defence, where Mattia Cassani should replace Christian Maggio at right-back. The new Fiorentina man hinted that he could be given a chance in the side, after expressing his hope at being presented in Florence on Tuesday night, where he has recently completed a transfer. However, Cesare Prandelli has also indicated that he will not make any major changes to the line-up that struggled to beat Faroe Islands.

Slovenia (4-4-2): Handanovic; Brecko, Cesar, Ilic, Jokic; Koren, Radosavlevic, Ilicic, Birsa; Novakovic, Matavz

Slovenia are expected to name the same team that surprisingly lost to Estonia last week, which may prove to be a significant blow to their qualifying aspirations. However, it is still a very strong squad they possess, which includes five Serie A representatives and two Eredivisie performers in their ranks, aswell as the odd Bundesliga and Belgian Pro League talent.


DID YOU KNOW?
 
  • Italy coach Prandelli returned to Fiorentina for his first home qualifier as national team boss, a 5-0 victory against the Faroe Islands on 7 September last year.
  • They prevailed 1-0 when they met Slovenia in Ljubljana on 25 March, where Brazilian-born Thiago Motta (pictured right) scored the only goal of the game on his Azzurri debut.
  • Italy's record in six games against their neighbours from the west reads three wins, one defeat and two losses, with two wins coming on home soil.
  • All five meetings since their first encounter have been settled by a single goal.
  • Italy also triumphed on October 8 2005 in the 2006 World Cup qualifiers, winning 1-0 in Palermo thanks to Cristian Zaccardo's solitary strike.
  • Italy top Group C with 16 points from their six matches to date, while Slovenia lie in second, five points behind their opponents.
  • Slovenia contain five players who ply their trade in Italy; Samir Handanovic, Valter Birsa, Bojan Jokic, Bostjan Cesar and Josip Ilicic.
  • The Slovenians have won just one of their last four qualifiers, with Northern Ireland lurking just two points behind them, with a game in hand.

Players to watch

A. Cassano

Position: Attacker

Games: 0

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The No. 10 has been in sparkling form for Italy since his return to the international set-up under Cesare Prandelli, and he should display his importance to the Azzurri cause once again with another potential match-winning performance. Flourishing in his new striking role, rather than his original position of trequartista that he is not naturally cut out for, his intelligence and unpredictable nature in and around the box is sure to provide a genuine goal-threat to the Slovenians.

T. Matavž

Position: Attacker

Games: 0

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Matavz is the hottest property currently in Dutch football, after recently completing a move to giants PSV Eindhoven from Groningen, where he scored an impressive 20 goals for the struggling Eredivisie outfit. His career path seems very similar to that of a certain Luis Suarez, who also earned a move from his native country and used Groningen as a stepping stone to bigger things. A real handful with his towering presence and predatory instincts, he has already broken records by becoming Slovenias youngest-ever player to register a hat-trick.

Editor's Prediction

Italy's annual difficult start to a new campaign continues to faze them, but it won't stop them in picking up the elusive victory to send them to Poland and Ukraine next year. Although Slovenia will push them very hard, as they have a qualifying campaign to salvage, it is that bit of craft and star quality from the hosts that should see them prevail. However, the Italian's defence looked shaky at times at the Faroes, and the likes of Matavz and Ilicic could make it a long night.

Last Five Matches

Head To Head

Italy

Slovenia

Wins
3
0
2
Wins

Betting & Predictions

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