Prudent Prandelli focusing on automatic Azzurri qualification

Italy’s qualification route to the World Cup in 2014 was drawn up in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday night and it was one which left the powers that be cautiously optimistic. FIGC President Giancarlo Abete announced “I think it’s a good draw, though we must be careful” and Italy Coach Cesare Prandelli declared “we are Italy and our aim in qualifying must be to win the group.”
Denmark, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Armenia and Malta will join the Azzurri in Group B to qualify for the first World Cup to be held in Brazil for 64 years. Perhaps not names to strike fear into the four-time winners, but tough tasks and tricky trips away from home await the Nazionale who are in something of an embryonic period at present.
Prandelli went on to add “if you name one, then you risk getting a nasty surprise.” Denmark were the last nation to beat Italy in a competitive game on Italian soil during qualification for Euro 2000 with a 3-2 win in Turin in 1999 and Bulgaria took a point off the Azzurri during qualification for the World Cup in South Africa with a 0-0 draw in Sofia.
Denmark, on paper at least, pose Italy’s biggest threat and recent qualification games shows they are strong side again after being tournament nearly-men for a time, missing out on both the 2006 World Cup and Euro 2008. They topped a tight group in qualification to last year’s World Cup, ahead of Portugal and neighbours Sweden, so are clearly no mugs.
The Danes are also currently blooding a new generation of talent after recent retirements of senior players, the most recent being Jon Dahl Tomasson. Mixed with the old guard of Christian Poulsen, Dennis Rommedahl and goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen when fit, much will be expected of Ajax’s teenage attacking midfielder Christian Eriksen to supply Arsenal’s Nicklas Bendtner for goals, while the pairing of Daniel Agger and Simon Kjær keep things tight at the back.
The Eastern European trio of Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Armenia will all beatable to Italian eyes. The Czechs aren’t at the level they were at when Italy cruised to a 2-0 victory over them at the World Cup in Germany in 2006 and despite Bulgaria’s draw with Italy, the Azzurri comfortably beat the Bulgarians in the home game during World Cup qualification, even with Dimitar Berbatov, Valeri Bojinov and the two Petrovs all playing.
A trip to the Armenian capital Yerevan won’t be a guaranteed three points either and is arguably the trickiest away tie of the three Eastern European away games as the Armenians have beaten Poland and Slovakia and taken points off Portugal, Russia and Serbia at home in recent qualification groups.
And then there’s minnows Malta. While diplomatic relations between the Maltese and Italians may be good today, the locals will be relishing the Italians trip to the tiny Mediterranean island given the history between the two nations and regardless of the odds, will no doubt fancy their chances of an upset.
Prandelli and Abete couldn’t hide their delight at avoiding France and Russia as they know all of the above are beatable. The former Fiorentina Coach has taken a game by game approach to things during qualification and it has so far worked for the new age Azzurri and with European Championship qualification not yet finished, Prandelli isn’t looking beyond the remaining four games. After that, however, dreams of the road to Rio and the regaining of the World Cup. Welcome Bonus Offer Betway

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