Italy expected to steam through to Poland & Ukraine 2012 after favourable draw

Italy have been drawn against Serbia, Slovenia, Estonia, Northern Ireland and the Faroe Islands for the European 2012 qualifying draw. The draw took place in Warsaw, Poland and the Azzurri will be fairly pleased with the outcome.

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Apart from tricky Serbia, who out-qualified France for the 2010 World Cup, Italy enjoyed a warm draw in freezing Poland. Coach Marcello Lippi who did not attend the draw, said: “’Italy have a balanced group with Serbia and Slovenia, both of which will compete in the World Cup.” The 61-year-old added: “There is also the benefit of being in a group of six teams, other groups are more difficult, like that of England.” Lippi’s absence from the draw fuelled rumours that he will stand down after this summer, but it will be the World Cup-winning Coach together with the Italian FA and the associated nations who will decide on Italy’s fixture list. Each nation has 30 days to complete their desired schedule, failing that UEFA will intervene with proposed dates.

Italy have a good record over their Euro 2012 opposition. They have played Serbia only once – as Serbia & Montenegro in a draw, but the Serbs will need to be respected especially at home. The Azzurri have played Slovenia and Estonia four times in competitive matches, each time Italy coming out overall on top. With two wins, a loss and a draw against Slovenia, whilst Italy have a 100% record over Estonia. Italy who reached the quarter finals of the 2008 tournament only have a 50/50 record over Northern Ireland, having only played them on two occasions over the years. Finally minnows Faroe Islands have been beaten both times with ease when the countries have met. No matter what test awaits in Group C, they will be glad that they avoided tougher opposition such as Giovanni’s Trapattoni’s Republic of Ireland.

Champions Spain were handed a stern test in Group I with Czech Republic, whilst England also have a tough route to Poland & Ukraine 2012. The 2008 runners-up Germany will face Turkey who they famously beat in perhaps the most absorbing match of Euro 2008. Coach Joachim Low felt at home in his side’s Group A.’

Full Draw:- Seeds in capitals.

GROUP A: GERMANY, Turkey, Austria, Belgium, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan

GROUP B: RUSSIA, Slovakia, Rep of Ireland, Macedonia, Armenia, Andorra

GROUP C: ITALY, Serbia, Estonia, Slovenia, Northern Ireland, Faroe Islands

GROUP D: FRANCE, Romania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Belarus, Albania, Luxembourg

GROUP E: HOLLAND, Sweden, Finland, Hungary, Moldova, San Marino

GROUP F: CROATIA, Greece, Israel, Latvia, Georgia, Malta

GROUP G: ENGLAND, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Wales, Montenegro

GROUP H: PORTUGAL, Denmark, Norway, Cyprus, Iceland

GROUP I: SPAIN, Czech Rep, Scotland, Lithuania, Liechtenstein.

* Matches to be played between September 2010- October 2011.

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