Cesare Prandelli was pleased with the win over Bulgaria and acknowledged Italy “are one step away from the World Cup.”
Alberto Gilardino’s header and some remarkable Gianluigi Buffon saves secured a 1-0 victory, putting the Azzurri seven points clear at the top of Group B. Qualification can now be achieved on Tuesday with the Czechs in Turin.
“We are one step away from the World Cup in Brazil,” said the Coach in his Press conference.
“Gigi was extraordinary. His saves were practically like scoring two goals. We knew that we could struggle if we lost our balance and while we had the fitness levels we played good football.
“The real regret is that we were forced into three substitutions. We had to change things round, lost out in terms of stamina and therefore suffered. We had particular trouble on corners and counter-attacks. We certainly can and must do better.
“Unfortunately we have some fairly serious injury problems. Luca Antonelli’s ankle is very swollen and Ignazio Abate can’t play either. Lorenzo Insigne has a bruise after a nasty knock, so we’ll have to see if he can recover.”
Prandelli has called up Manuel Pasqual and Lorenzo De Silvestri to replace Antonelli and Abate against the Czechs. Mario Balotelli, Dani Osvaldo and Riccardo Montolivo are also available after their bans.
Italy are now seven points clear of Bulgaria in Group B, while the Czech Republic, Armenia and Denmark are in joint third place.
“Bulgaria are a very fearsome squad, as we said before this game, because they combine great organisation with players who run hard and into spaces. They have something more than us in physical terms right now and we know for Italy September is tricky. I like this team.”
Gilardino had the best years of his career at Fiorentina under Prandelli and filled in well last night for the suspended Balotelli and Osvaldo.
“I am happy for Gila, as I know how much he cares about the Italy squad and how professional he is. When he’s in good shape, Gila can play like few others. When he runs out of energy, he keeps going, as that is what a World Cup winner and a Nazionale player has to do. He knows how to suffer and feels no fear.”
Prandelli praised the fans at the Stadio Barbera in Palermo, although there was an unfortunate incident during the Bulgarian anthem.
“I must compliment the crowd, who were fantastic. The only problem was some jeers at the national anthem, which should never happen, but the majority did very well to drown them out with applause.”
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's World Cup tipster competition - £10,000 to be won!