To be mathematically certain of winning Group 2, the Azzurrini need four points from their final two games against the group's two basement teams: Andorra today and Lithuania in October. The goal should be easily achievable for a side that has won six and drawn two (both against Serbia) so far in qualifying.
You can never take anything for granted in football, however, as shown by the match against Andorra on 29th March. Italy really struggled to break down the home side in that encounter and only won thanks to a late goal from Alberto Cerri.
“In the away game,” Di Biagio recalled yesterday, “we were a bit flat in the first half and we came out and played after half-time. If we play like we can, there won't be any problems. We need to attack them straight from the first whistle and look to create as many opportunities as we can. In addition to the tactical aspect, it'll be important to impose a pattern on the game and make sure we get to the ball first. We must win and play well.”
Group Two Standings – ITALY 20 points, Slovenia 15, Serbia 14, Republic of Ireland 9, Lithuania 6, Andorra 3 The Squad Goalkeepers: Alessio Cragno (Benevento), Alex Meret (Spal), Simone Scuffet (Udinese);
Defenders: Davide Biraschi (Avellino), Arturo Calabresi (Brescia), Davide Calabria (Milan), Mattia Caldara (Atalanta), Andrea Conti (Atalanta), Adam Masina (Bologna), Nicola Murru (Cagliari), Filippo Romagna (Juventus), **Alessio Romagnoli (Milan);
Midfielders: Marco Benassi (Torino), Danilo Cataldi (Lazio), Alberto Grassi (Napoli), Luca Mazzitelli (Sassuolo); Lorenzo Pellegrini (Sassuolo), Valerio Verre (Pescara);
Forwards: *Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Alberto Cerri (Spal), Federico Di Francesco (Bologna), Luca Garritano (Cesena), Gaetano Monachello (Bari), Vittorio Parigini (Chievo Verona), Federico Ricci (Roma), Valerio Lorenzo Rosseti (Lugano).
*Injured, he has left the squad
**He joined the squad from the senior side Staff – Delegation head: Giancarlo Antognoni; Accompanying director Vincenzo Martinelli; Coach: Luigi Di Biagio; Assistant coach: Carmine Nunziata; Secretary: Emiliano Cozzi; Goalkeeping coach: Antonio Chimenti; Fitness coach: Vito Azzone; Doctors: Angelo De Carli and Luca Gatteschi; Physiotherapists: Enzo Paolini, Guido Mauro Ferrini and Maurizio Fagorzi; Equipment managers: Claudio Gagliardi and Andrea Russo. Schedule Tuesday 6th September
18:30 ITALY vs. ANDORRA at the Stadio Alberto Picco in La Spezia. Meeting with press at full-time followed by return of players to their clubs. ]]>