Sabato, 22 Settembre 2018

Soccer: Italy wary of bad weather, organised Maltese


Florence, March 25 - Italy coach Cesare Prandelli
said Monday that his side are not underestimating the challenge
they will face against an organised Malta side in potentially
difficult conditions in Tuesday's World Cup qualifier.
The four-time world champions visit the Mediterranean
island as the leaders of European World Cup qualifying group B
with 10 points from four games.
International minnows Malta, meanwhile, are bottom with no
points and they were thrashed 6-0 by second-placed Bulgaria in
Sofia on Friday.
But Prandelli is wary, in part because of the bad weather
that has hit the island.
"We'll face a very well-organised side because they train
together almost with the same frequency as a club team,"
Prandelli told reporters.
"They are a team who know how to double up the marking and
intercept the ball.
"Their defeat against Bulgaria came about on a pitch where
there was strong wind and it was conditioned by two blunders
(that led to goals).
"I remain convinced that each game is different to the
previous one.
"I'm worried about the weather conditions and the strong
wind that we might find there because, if you aren't use to it,
this can make you lose your concentration".
Italy go into the game on the back of a good showing in
Thursday's 2-2 draw with Brazil in a friendly.
Prandelli raised eyebrows after that game by saying Malta
are better organised than Brazil in defence.
"When I said that Malta are more organised than Brazil, I
didn't want to offend Brazil or take anyone for a fool," the
coach said.
"It's simply that they are well-organised and tight-knit at
the back.
"It may turn out to be an easy match if we make it easy.
Right now, what counts are the points.
"A 1-0 win may be good enough, it depends on how you
achieve it.
"The games against Malta and the Czech Republic (in June)
will be crucial for qualification. If we get six points from
them we can have a serene summer and prepare in the best way for
the World Cup".
Prandelli confirmed that young AC Milan forwards Mario
Balotelli and Stephan El Shaarawy will partner each other on
Balotelli, 22, is in excellent form.
He scored with a spectacular strike from outside the box
against Brazil and has found the net seven times in six
appearances for Milan since moving from Manchester City in
El Shaarawy, 20, is Serie A's second top scorer so far
this season with 16 goals.
"Balotelli and El Shaarawy form a partnership that has
great margins for improvement," said Prandelli. "They can do
very good things".
Prandelli often reveals his starting lineup the day before
a match but he opted not to this time as he has not yet decided
what formation he will use.

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