Monday October 15 2012
There is nothing like a Dane

We’re still at an early stage in qualification, but, as Giancarlo Rinaldi writes, Italy-Denmark could be one of the most crucial in Group B.

It was a great performance, it was a terrible performance. Opinion was hugely divided between Press and Azzurri over their display in Armenia. But now they face a moment of true judgment on their qualification qualities when Denmark roll into town.

There has been little of the sweet, flowing football witnessed at Euro 2012 in Italy’s first three group games on the road to the World Cup. It has been a much more sporadically entertaining and sometimes lethargic outfit which has taken to the field. They can, however, set the record straight with a resounding victory on Tuesday.

The other results have already been quite kind to the boys in blue and a win would allow them to look at the group table with a degree more relaxation. They might also buy Cesare Prandelli a little more breathing space from a media pack which has quickly kicked any feel good factor from the summer into touch. The fact is, that without a decent display this week he will face some of the most stern criticism of his time in charge so far.

To avoid that eventuality, of course, he needs a helping hand from his players. They have not always looked 100 per cent concentrated on the job in hand and those distractions have thrown their opponents a lifeline in matches. It is up to them to put thoughts of the Campionato to one side and give their all to the Azzurri cause.

A goal for Sebastian Giovinco would help both player and Coach. A barnstorming Mario Balotelli display might rekindle the good vibes of the European Nations. And a real leader’s performance from Riccardo Montolivo would also be something that could light up a brighter future for the team.

Not that their opponents are exactly sitting pretty. A sluggish start means Denmark, too, need a more convincing display. A defeat would leave their qualification dream severely damaged – and for the highest ranked opponent in Italy’s group that would be a pretty depressing situation.

That puts all the ingredients together for an entertaining, if nervous, night at San Siro. It seems early in the Group B proceedings to make such claims, but it really could be one of the defining matches of qualification for both sides. With so much at stake, it should be a gripping encounter.

Make no mistake, the Danes are a tricky obstacle for Italy and they would be foolish to take them lightly. If minds wander to the weekend fixtures in Serie A, then they are likely to be punished. Past history suggests this is undoubtedly the case.

Although the Azzurri hold an admirable seven wins to three advantage with just one draw between the sides, they have been tripped up by Denmark in the past. Once came in World Cup qualification back in 1981 while preparing for glory in Spain. Another defeat came in Napoli in 1999, en route to Euro 2000. And the current Danish side would love to emulate those great performances of yesteryear and throw the group wide open in the process. It is up to Italy to ensure they play like Euro Nations runners-up and give them no such opportunity.

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Have your say...
i am fed up with all of critics! if you know much about football and how to coach, please take my job and i shall leave to coach club instead, i am sure you will be amused of all the challenges and opportunities within this terrific job! Seriously, i had it i cannot handle it anymore with all this media and fans abuse! after what i have done to the nazionale; reaching euros '12 final and inserting all them fresh young talented players, instead i am being thrown stones at! thank you!
on the 16th October, 2012 at 8:09am
Cabrelli, Gancarlo was talking about Denmarks qualification dreams not Italy's.
on the 16th October, 2012 at 7:47am
Well I do consider the Danish test is a good course of action to realize where the Azzurri are and how GOOD they are? Danish delight is sure one indeed. One of the fun things about football is that charisma is in it, hence, i shall bet anyone to challenge the Italian charisma at good, tough, complicated games. I expect a win, a hard fight win that is, but not a beautiful game!From the course of action so far after the Euros Final, Azzurri needs much more time to find the right rythm and pace.
on the 16th October, 2012 at 5:45am
i like ornofio's line be honest, the under-21s are the best crop of italian players to come along in 15 years...there are so many names and transitioning in the game breakers is essential to prandelli's success...
on the 15th October, 2012 at 6:27pm
Cabrelli you are an idiot. Read the article again and rethink what you have written. The "qualification dream" was in reference to Denmark not Italy.
on the 15th October, 2012 at 6:20pm
Also AP, CP's continual use of Bonucci, in a back 4 baffles me. Bonucci is ok in a 352, when he has two other CB's to cover his numerous errors. But in a back four he is an extreme liability. Pirlo should have been rested against Malta. That was the perfect opportunity for Verratti's competitive debut. Whilst I like Prandelli, it would be foolish to not question some of his decisions. He was wrong in saying that the last performance was "great". The result was, but that was it.
on the 15th October, 2012 at 3:53pm
AP, Prandelli has done good things since taking over. His attacking ethos, man-management, and willingness to give youth an opportunity, are all appreciated. Sadly, no manager is perfect, and right now I have concerns regarding his tactical acumen-we are far too vulnerable/open at the back, with the 4312; has CP learned nothing from the defeats to Russia, Spain, & the performance against Bulgaria?
on the 15th October, 2012 at 3:37pm
It is ridiculous that people are even considering criticizing Prandelli. He revitalized the Italy team since he took charge, and he is continuing to look to the future. He is probably the biggest reason why young players are finally getting attention in Italy. Prandelli is an excellent coach. Criticizing him for winning most of his games is just stupid.
on the 15th October, 2012 at 2:59pm
Tough game this one, Italy could be out muscled if Prandelli gets the formation wrong (and he has got it wrong on plenty of occasions during his reign so far). We need to control the game in midfield to relieve pressure off back line which has been poor in the qualification campaign so far, dont give Denmark room to pressure the defense. Pack the midfield & make sure Italy dominate the game in the middle Prandelli! And play Osvaldo up front because he is on form, dont risk an off form striker
on the 15th October, 2012 at 1:52pm
I know I've been spouting on recently about 4-4-2 but that experiment should be made for friendlies, for Denmark we should revert back to 3-5-2


De Rossi

Pirlo (Verratti if Pirlo tires)

Balotelli/El Shaarawy
on the 15th October, 2012 at 1:19pm
What exactly is the point of this little article aside from reminding us that Italy play Denmark on Tuesday and that it would be better to win the game than lose it?

"A defeat would leave their qualification dream severely damaged". I'm not sure Italy have a 'qualification dream', whatever that is. Can you damage a dream? Bulgaria have a 'qualification dream'. Italy are favourites.

Do Spain and Germany have 'qualification dreams' or are they just trying to top their groups?
on the 15th October, 2012 at 12:41pm
Denmark will cause us problems, especially down the flanks. If CP sticks with the 4312, and Denmark play with their usual 4231, then our full backs will be doubled-up on. If this comes to fruition, our full backs will be reluctant to get forward, because of the space they will vacate behind them. This could result in us having little to no width, making us even more narrow than usual, and make our play too predictable. A 433 would surely make more sense, with a triident of SES, Gio, & Osvaldo.
on the 15th October, 2012 at 12:11pm
Why is CP under so much pressure. 7 out of 9 points is not perfect but still on course. Teams like Denmark will always be a trip hazard but CP will deliver Italia to Brazil in 2014. Forza Italia
on the 15th October, 2012 at 11:11am
Denmank have had 2 draws so far and havent been great. But we are Italy and always make things hard for ourselves. It wont be easy, Denmark will be looking at the game as a chance to really kick start their qualification which so far has been poor. We need to keep a very close eye on Bendner, what better way to show Juve the qualities he has.
on the 15th October, 2012 at 10:00am
Come on Buffon we need you big time. Its a very important game. I agree although early in qualification is vital. This is the opportunity to really show everyone of our quality. We need a good performance and win. On reflection Prandelli says the last game was a great perfomance the press say it was terrible, i think somewhere in between. Prandelli needs a good win or everyone will continue to be on his back. I keep saying it but squad selection in the main problem and of course tactics.
on the 15th October, 2012 at 9:57am
Looking forward to the game even if I'm not really optimistic on behalf of my Danish lads.
on the 15th October, 2012 at 9:07am

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