Now that Italy have won their first match of the EURO 2012 qualifiers against Estonia, it’s time to look ahead. The group which Italy have been put in isn’t difficult, but it could cause some unexpected results and slip-ups if the Azzurri aren’t careful. Probably the most dangerous teams in the group are Serbia, Northern Ireland, and Slovenia. And Italy will need to win their second match against the Faroe Islands to make sure that they don’t find themselves in a bad situation when they need to face the bigger teams.
The 2-1 comeback from Italy was wonderful, a positive result which highlights that the team has an inspired Cassano along with an eternal Pirlo. But that win was against Estonia, the 94th ranked team in the world, and if Italy wants to move up from 11th, they’re going to have to beat stronger teams. Italy is the best ranked team (in the FIFA rankings) in their group at 11th, Serbia is 13th, Slovenia is 19th, Northern Ireland is 59th, Estonia is 94th, and the Faroe Islands are 118th. The opponents aren’t too powerful, but Serbia already started well with a 3-0 win against the Faroe Islands.
The main opponents which will be battling for first place in Group C are Serbia, a strong team with players like Vidic, Stankovic, Krasic, and Kuzmanovic. They’re filled with top quality players which are used to playing in Europe’s top leagues, so it will be important to defeat them when the time comes, so that Italy can qualify directly at first place.
Serbia defeated Italy’s upcoming opponents, the Faroe Islands, 3-0 with no trouble. Italy should be able to win with the same scoreline, if not more so that they can hopefully surpass Serbia in the group and be in a good position when the direct clash comes.
Italy will also have to face Northern Ireland, who beat Slovenia 1-0, away at Slovenia. Nigel Worthington’s side now has about a month before they face the Azzurri in their next match in Ireland, and they’ll be looking to win against Italy in hopes of progressing out of the group. Northern Ireland will probably be the most passionate opponents which will fight to the end to get a result.
The team which Northern Ireland defeated, Slovenia, will be looking to recuperate points which they lost. In the World Cup Slovenia barely missed out progressing past the group stages, they finished behind USA and England, just one point off from both of those teams. The players to watch out for will be Koren and Birsa, two tricky playes which can create goals with little difficulty. Italy will face Slovenia later on in the qualification campaign, and it would be best to have already won another couple of matches before having to face them.
Most of these teams will be fighting for their spot at the EURO’s, and I repeat that Serbia, Northern Ireland, and Slovenia are tricky teams to play against. It will be important that the Azzurri grab three points against the Faroe Islands on September 7th, and if possible they should score plenty of goals to help out in the goal difference factor. After the Faroe Islands Italy will travel to Ireland to play Northern Ireland the 8th of October, and then they will host Serbia the 11th of October.
While I think that Prandelli’s side can get three wins out of three and take first place in the group, we’ll have to wait and see how much of a fight the opponents will put up. The problem is that if Italy lose against Serbia, that would mean heaps of trouble with the Serbians who are already first in the group.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming matches for Italy? Can they manage three wins in the next three matches? Share your thoughts by commenting below!