Denmark boss Morten Olsen has pinpointed Andrea Pirlo and Mario Balotelli as Italy’s key players ahead of Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier.
The two teams will meet at the Stadio Meazza and Olsen is full of respect for a stuttering Azzurri side.
“Pirlo is certainly an important player,” he noted. “If he manages to orchestrate Italy then it will be difficult for us to win.
“We have prepared ourselves in an effort to limit all of Italy and not just Pirlo. After all, if he doesn’t get into the game then Italy still have Daniele De Rossi. We have to take everyone on.
“As for Balotelli, he’s a great talent and I fear him,” the national boss added. “I’ve never seen Balotelli train with Italy or with Manchester City, but I really respect him.
“He’s strong in front of goal and he can decide the outcome of a game with a goal or with a pass. He’s fantastic.”
Denmark’s main threat is likely to be Nicklas Bendtner, the Juventus player who has only played a handful of minutes so far this season.
“He made the right choice in joining Juventus,” Olsen continued. “But he arrived on transfer deadline day.
“It is also difficult to find space in a title-winning team that has other good forwards too. You can’t immediately find space, but he will because he has different characteristics to the others.”
Turning back to tomorrow’s game, Olsen admits that he’s worried by the statistic that Italy haven’t lost a home qualifier since 1999.
“It’s never easy to face a side like Italy,” he commented. “To play against the Azzurri is always hard, especially if they are at full strength. You also need a bit of luck in games like this.”
Denmark, however, have caused Italy problems in the past and their controversial 2-2 draw with Sweden at Euro 2004 saw the Italians dumped out of the competition.
“I’m scared to say what I really think about that,” Olsen stated. “Games against Sweden are always big games for us and we did everything we could to win that one.
“Sweden did well to make it 2-2. That’s just the way it went…”