Italy vs. Montenegro Preview (World Cup 2010 Qualifiers)

Perched at the top of Group 8 World Cup Qualifiers (7 points in 3 matches), Italy is looking towards Wednesday’s match vs. Montenegro as a good way to wrap up the year 2008. With no more WC qualifying matches till March, you can be certain Marcello Lippi’s boys will step onto Stadio Via del Mare (Lecce) eager to end the year on a win, especially after Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Bulgaria.

Can Vucinic & friends prevent them from doing so?

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Italy

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Goalkeepers: Amelia (Palermo), Curci (Siena), De Sanctis (Galatasaray)
Defenders: Bonera (Milan), F.Cannavaro (Real Madrid), Chiellini (Juventus), Dossena (Liverpool), Gamberini (Fiorentina), Santacroce (Napoli), Zambrotta (Milan)
Midfielders: Aquilani (Roma), De Rossi (Roma), Gattuso (Milan), Maggio (Napoli), Montolivo (Fiorentina), Nocerino (Palermo), Perrotta (Roma)
Forwards: Di Natale (Udinese), Gilardino (Fiorentina), Pepe (Udinese), Quagliarella (Udinese), G.Rossi (Villareal)

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The great news for Lippi Tuesday, was that everyone in the Azzurri camp recovered from their respective knocks. Daniele De Rossi & Gennaro Gattuso had been slightly in doubt for Wednesday’s match, but the Italy manager is confident both players will feature in tomorrow’s formation. A starting line-up which may very well include a certain Villareal striker named Giuseppe.

You already ‘discovered’ Rossi last Saturdaysaid Lippi. “Tomorrow, it is very likely you’ll discover him again, either from the start of the match or the second half. I will make some changes. A few fitness niggles are affecting the decision-making process and so I will only make my final pick after the morning training session. You will see the team is going to be more attacking than in Bulgaria, partly because we’ll have the extra push from our home fans.”

Changes-wise, while Giuseppe Rossi‘s utilization from minute 1 (probably in lieu of Antonio Di Natale, not-too-brilliant Saturday, or Simone Pepe) is still 50-50, odds are pointing towards an Alberto Aquilani replacement of Riccardo Montolivo in the Azzurri midfield. The remaining 9 players should be the same that started against Bulgaria on Saturday.

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Amelia
Zambrotta, F.Cannavaro, Chiellini, Dossena
Gattuso, De Rossi, Aquilani
Pepe, Gilardino, Di Natale (or G.Rossi)

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In addition to tactical discussions, the Azzurri manager stressed the importance of getting three points on Wednesday in light of the lone point obtained against Bulgaria. “We must win order to give the draw in Sofia value, otherwise these will become two negative matches. If our team wants it very strongly it generally gets the win, so we have to do something more in attack. Our opponents are very enthusiastic, especially as their Federation was only recently formed. Montenegro are technically gifted both in terms of players and management, with stars like Vucinic and Jovetic. They deserve utmost respect.

Speaking of respect, the Italian manager is bound to get even more if he picks up a positive result against Montenegro, thus matching the record set by Vittorio Pozzo of going for 30 consecutive games unbeaten on the Italy bench (naturally discounting the two years of Roberto Donadoni’s reign). As for any good coach however, these are things of major concern for Lippi: “Let us not talk about this until after the game. In today’s football you do not win with peaks, but with consistency. That is the meaning of a solid team.”

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Montenegro

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Goalkeepers: Poleksić (Debrecen), M.Bozovic (Partizan Belgrade)
Defenders: Pavicevic (Cottbus), Batak (Ankaraspor), Tanasijević (Dynamo Moscowi), Jovanovic (Univ. Cluj), Jeknic (Wehen Wiesbaden), Zverotic (Lucerne), Pejovic (Mogren Budva), V.Bozovic (Rapid Bucharest)
Midfielders: Bošković (Rapid Wien), Novakovic (Amkar Perm), Drincic (Amkar Perm), Delic (Buducnost Pod.), Vukčević (Sporting Lisbon), Burzanović (Red Star), Vujovic (Mogren Budva)
Forwards: Vucinic (Roma), Jovetić (Fiorentina), Bogavac (Mainz), Damjanovic (FC Seoul), Djalovic (Rapid Bucharest)

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Italy are stronger, but in football everything is possible“. These are the words of Mirko Vucinic, the former Lecce symbol who emigrated to Roma to continue his great goalscoring career. Now back to familiar territory, the Montenegrin star outlines his expectations for Wednesday’s match.

Italy have many great players, but we are a young team and play with our heart & soul any time the national team is involved. I wouldn’t be satisfied by playing well and the losing the game. A draw would be fine, but we’ll try to get a win. Don’t ask me if I’d prefer beating Italy with Montenegro or Inter with Roma (set to play Sunday), I’d rather win them both“.

Montenegro manager Zoran Filipović has a few ideas of his own on how to beat the Azzurri. “We’ll need courage, and luck. We started from scratch: in two years (Montenegro officially achieved independence from Serbia & Montenegro in June 2006) we built up something important. What do I expect from tomorrow’s match? It’s hard to say… we’re playing the current World Champions. One thing’s for sure: I am surprised not to see Stevan Jovetic play more matches at Fiorentina. He’s a great talent.” And speaking of Jovetic, Dejan Savicevic (of AC Milan fame, and now president of the Montenegrin FA) agrees.

Predicted formation (according to KwSport):

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Poleksic
Pavicevic, Tanasijevic, Batak, Bozovic V.
Drincic, Zverotch, Vukcevic, Jovetic, Boskovic
Vucinic

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Italy vs. Montenegro, kick-off time 20:50 CET

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FORZA AZZURRI

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