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Goal.com's Sulmaan Ahmad decides who from the Montenegro match should get the chop ahead of the game with Ireland...

Well, they got the job done, but Italy were barely impressive in scraping past Montenegro. A tougher test awaits, as Ireland visit Bari on Wednesday and the onus will be on the world champions to pick up another three points. Anything less would be a disappointment.

There have been critics of Marcello Lippi's recent decisions - particularly the omission of Antonio Cassano - but the progression in selection is reminiscent of Fabio Capello; a man loathe to change too much at once, who instead introduces subtle changes one by one until he gets the team and the squad exactly where he wants it to be.

Maybe Lippi is doing the same. Maybe Angelo Palombo's start on Saturday and Marco Motta making the bench were a sign of things to come. OK, expecting 'Fantantonio' to don the Azzurri colours during Lippi's reign may be stretching it a bit, but that doesn't mean a world class team can't be formed from the rest of the talent at the disposal of the coach.

The team that played on Saturday will not win the World Cup. They would be lucky to make the quarter-finals. Udinese are a proud Italian team and worthy of admiration, but what you don't see is Capello starting every Aston Villa player just because they are overachieving this season and have a core of English players.

The Villans are making up the numbers in the squad; only those with sufficient experience are making the first team, and as utility players more than anything. Meanwhile Lippi is supplementing his strikeforce - what he expects to win him games - with UEFA Cup players. Change is needed, and though it needn't be drastic, it must be put into motion sooner rather than later.

And so, from Italy's team that trotted on past Montenegro win, it's time to vote off the weakest link.

3) Gianluca Zambrotta

He went from being the consummate full-back in 2006 - arguably the best in the business - to a shadow of himself after the World Cup. The Barcelona move did him few favours, and his slight improvement since returning to Milan hasn't really been enough. He just about survives the cut today, but should be watching his back, with Marco Motta waiting in the wings.

2) Vincenzo Iaquinta

He was voted Goal.com's Flop of the Match and, on the hour mark, was replaced by goal scorer and fans' vote for Top of the Match, Giampaolo Pazzini, so it's little surprise we find the Juve man standing on the thinnest of ice. Not to suggest that he's past it, but the 29-year-old lacks a cutting edge and isn't even a regular at club level. What saves his skin in this instance is his versatility. More on that later.

1) Fabio Quagliarella

And so it is the man once allegedly targeted by Manchester United who falls foul of being not quite good enough. Italy's entire forward line was a disappointment at the weekend, but with Antonio Di Natale injured, he was not even a candidate for the vote-off and it is Iaquinta's ability to play an auxiliary wide role that has seen him survive the cut at the expense of Udinese's wonder-goal extraordinaire.

Though just one player has been voted off, in effect, two changes, in this scenario, would be needed to face the Irish. Pazzini's goal as well as his domestic form for Sampdoria as good as demands a place from Lippi, and another young man fast growing in stature up front is Giuseppe Rossi at Villarreal.

With the two of them brought in, the formation would remain very much the same, with Rossi wide left, Pazzini through the middle and Iaquinta remaining on the right. Rumours in the Italian press are already reporting that Lippi is leaning towards a change similar to this, but with Simone Pepe replacing Iaquinta to complete a full overhaul of the forward line.

A vast majority seem settled on the fact that 4-3-3 is just not a very Italian formation and it's hard to argue with such a sentiment. However, due to the squad selected for this double header, there are no sufficient players to supplement a switch to the more familiar 4-3-1-2 or diamond midfiield.

The question on everybody's lips in such a scenario is who, just who should be appointed the prestigious position of trequartista. Should Francesco Totti come out of retirement? Is it a role that Alessandro Del Piero can fulfil in his twilight years? Some are even suggesting Lippi's adversary Cassano, and then there is the youthful option of Sebastian Giovinco.

It makes little difference, because due to injuries here and coaching decisions there, none of them are in the squad. The 4-3-3 phenomenon, made famous by the great Roberto Donadoni, will live to fight at least one more day. Azzurri fans will just be hoping it doesn't end in embarrassment.

Sulmaan Ahmad, Goal.com

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