NEWS
Friday March 25 2011
Line-ups: Pazzini-Cassano lead Italy

Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini start in Italy's Euro 2012 qualifier against Slovenia, who field several Serie A players.

The Azzurri are without Daniele De Rossi and Mario Balotelli, who were dropped after breaking the code of ethics by picking up bans for violent conduct on club duty.

Italy currently top Group C with 10 points, but a defeat in Ljubljana would put Slovenia level with them.

Cesare Prandelli fields a 4-3-1-2 system with Christian Maggio, Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Federico Balzaretti in defence.

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NEWS
Friday March 25 2011
Prandelli: 'Call us a Serie B side...'

Italy Coach Cesare Prandelli hit back at the critics after conquering Ljubljana. “When they call us a Serie B side, it just motivates us even more.”

The Azzurri earned a 1-0 victory in Slovenia that puts them six points clear at the top of their Euro 2012 qualifying group, as Serbia beat Northern Ireland 2-1.

“People said we were a Serie B side, but that just helps motivate us even more,” smiled the tactician.

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NEWS
Friday March 25 2011
Thiago Motta: 'What a second cap!'

Thiago Motta “couldn't have asked for more” than scoring the winning goal on his second Italy cap.

The Inter midfielder, born in Brazil and now an ‘Oriundo' – South American playing for Italy – got the strike in Slovenia this evening.

“I couldn't have asked for more than scoring on my second cap. I must above all thank the lads and Coach for giving me confidence and a warm welcome,” he said.

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NEWS
Friday March 25 2011
Montolivo: 'Modern Italy has quality'

Riccardo Montolivo reveals how Cesare Prandelli has changed Italy's style. “We aim to play pretty fast, one-touch quality football.”

The Azzurri got their 1-0 win away to Slovenia with a well-taken goal, as Thiago Motta's give-and-go with Federico Balzaretti set him up for the angled drive.

“I am happy as we overall played a good game and could've taken the lead earlier, which would've made things easier,” said the Fiorentina star.

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NEWS
Friday March 25 2011
Buffon: 'Italy didn't win these'

Gianluigi Buffon celebrated Italy's first ever win in Slovenia. “We rarely used to win this type of match.”

The Azzurri's record on Slovenian soil was of one point from two visits, but Thiago Motta's goal secured victory in the Euro 2012 qualifier.

“We put in a good performance in a difficult arena against a team in excellent shape and above all in a fixture that we always struggled in,” said Buffon of the 1-0 result.

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NEWS
Thursday March 24 2011
Prandelli defends A-Class Italy

Cesare Prandelli has defended his Italy team – on the eve of their Slovenia qualifier – from claims that they are a Serie B national side.

Despite a dynamic display in last month's 1-1 friendly with Germany, the Azzurri still have their critics after a disastrous 2010 World Cup.

"If some people consider our level to be Serie B then it means that they will soon have to take note of our promotion to Serie A," the tactician stated.

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BLOG ITALIA
Thursday March 24 2011
Slovenian slip-ups

Recent history certainly doesn't favour Italy ahead of the Slovenia qualifier on Friday, as Giancarlo Rinaldi reveals

Arrigo Sacchi and Marcello Lippi have seen plenty of silverware over the years. They have coached teams to success around the globe in glittering careers for both club and country. But Cesare Prandelli can trump them both if he achieves something neither of them could manage – an away win against Slovenia.

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BLOG ITALIA
Thursday March 24 2011
Toto and the meritocracy

Cesare Prandelli is right to focus on youth but, as Scott Fleming argues, his Azzurri can't be a true meritocracy without the presence of a certain diminutive veteran

As campaign speeches go it was some truly compelling oratory. So compelling that Barack Obama was probably taking notes.

"I am convinced that there are quality players in Italy and it's my intention to propose a qualitative brand of football," said Cesare Prandelli when he was presented as the Azzurri's new commander in chief last summer. "Meritocracy will be the key to my Nazionale."

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NEWS
Thursday March 24 2011
Prandelli settles on 4-3-1-2

Italy boss Cesare Prandelli has confirmed that he will use a 4-3-1-2 formation for Friday night's Euro 2012 qualifier with Slovenia.

The Azzurri practiced the system throughout their training camp in Coverciano before boarding a plane bound for Ljubljana.

Before this morning's session, Prandelli spent half an hour explaining to the team the attitude that he would like to see on the pitch.

Lazio midfielder Stefano Mauri will play as a trequartista with Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini reprising their partnership up front.

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NEWS
Thursday March 24 2011
Maxi rules out Italy cap

Catania's Argentine striker Maxi Lopez has ruled out representing Italy as yet another oriundo.

The 26-year-old has made a big impression since his arrival in Serie A a year ago.

He scored 11 goals in his first 17 games to keep Catania in the top flight.

Recently there have been suggestions that Cesare Prandelli might call him up to the Italy squad.

Maxi has never been capped by Argentina and has an Italian passport.

"It has made me very happy to be linked with the Italian national team," he told Fox News.

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