Improving Slovenia out to shock Azzurri in Group C showdown

Vying to sit at the helm of Group C in the Euro 2012 qualifiers, Slovenia are eager to defeat Italy and snatch all three points to put them level with Cesare Prandelli’s men at the top. Disregard them at your peril as Slovenia are more than capable of causing an upset, demonstrated by the manner in which they dispatched Russia to qualify for the World Cup.
Since then, the team has not stopped developing and have recruited interesting talent such as Palermo’s Josep Ilicic. However, much of their success has come from their admirable focus on team-work. Hard working and comfortable in possession, they like to play a short passing game, and their calm and poised approach to football, coupled with their stamina to fight until the final whistle, make them dangerous opponents.
Only an apparent lack of ruthlessness in the final third has hampered this tiny nation from achieving the necessary wins to top the group. The matches against Northern Ireland and Serbia highlight their penchant for squandering chances in front of goal, and it has cost them vital points. Nevertheless, Slovenia know how to create trouble and, boasting players like Zlatko Dedic, are brilliantly adept at bridging the gap between midfield and attack with fluid movement capable of causing problems for Italy’s central defence.
Speaking of which, recent Azzurri training sessions suggest Prandelli will opt to field Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini as centre-backs, which has surprised many considering the fragile state of the Juventus defence. Having conceded 38 goals already this season, the partnership has yet to truly take off, and their club’s disastrous form of late means they will arrive with a weakened mentality. Unfortunately, Prandelli has little by way of alternatives as Andrea Ranocchia is no longer an option.
Federico Balzaretti and Christian Maggio are likely to be deployed as full-backs, and whilst they will contribute greatly to the attack when one considers their innate offensive nature, this decision is likely to increase the pressure on the Bianconeri centre-backs. As such, it seems Thiago Motta’s inclusion will be vital to help break up play and secure the defensive line. Riccardo Montolivo and Alberto Aquilani are likely to be picked to play alongside Motta, with the latter expected to also help secure the back-line.
Needless to say, the prospective line-up reveals Prandelli’s intentions. This will not be a clichéd Italian performance with a focus on defence. Instead, Prandelli will hope his men can hold possession and formulate attacks, both out wide through the full-backs and also through the centre as they are expected to play with Stefano Mauri as a trequartista.
Both teams will look to play a similar style of football so it is unlikely we will see many goals. In fact, the last four matches between the two sides have all been settled by only one goal. Not that former Slovenian striker Zlatko Zahovic sees it this way.
“We’ll win easily on Friday, 2-0. More than that, I’ll say Slovenia will have 70 per cent possession. Am I exaggerating? No,” Zahovic told La Gazzetta dello Sport this week.
“On top of that, while our Slovenian youth academies have improved a great deal, you only have two or three good players,” he added.
Italy, who have omitted major talent from the side in order to abide by a strict code of ethics, will be hoping these “two or three good players” Zahovic speaks of will help them record a win – and a classy one at that. It’s possible he’s done Prandelli’s team-talk for him… Welcome Bonus Offer Betway

Related matches