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Italy closing in on Euro qualification

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01 Sep 2011 11:30:29

Italy play in the Faroe Islands on Friday knowing they are closing in on European Championship 2012 qualification and could even have secured it by the middle of next week.

But centre-back Girogio Chiellini is warning his team-mates that they have everything to lose if they don't approach the Faroes clash with the right attituide.

"We're playing in an atypical environment that's a long way from our world," said the Juventus defender.

"In these matches we've got everything to lose but with the right approach to the match we shouldn't be at risk.

"The path we're on is the right one, we're calm and motivated.

"We want to wrap up Euro qualification and hopefully we'll celebrate that on Tuesday in Florence against Slovenia."

If Italy beat both the Faroes and Slovenia they will have guaranteed their path to Ukraine and Poland next year.

But depending on how other results go they may not even need to win both games having won five and drawn one of their first six matches in Group C.

It has been a remarkably impressive start for coach Cesare Prandelli despite launching an overhaul of the aging squad that failed so ineptly under Marcello Lippi at the World Cup in South Africa last year.

"In midfield and attack we've got players with great reputations but we're also doing very well in defence," said Chiellini.

"When you consider that we've only conceded one goal so far in the group stages and only Montenegro have done as well as us."

But while the national team has been flourishing, beating Spain in a friendly in August and previously this year holding Germany to a draw, Italian club football has been in decline.

That's something that's worrying for Chiellini, whose Juve side did not even qualify for Europe this season and will have even less chance in the coming campaign given Italy have lost a Champions League place.

"This year we've proved that we can compete with great teams such as Germany and Spain," he said.

"But it's a different problem at club level. The (early) elimination of Roma and Palermo from the Europa League (already this season) should sound an alarm.

"Now we have to be careful about our FIFA ranking given the Portuguese teams are making great progress on the international stage."

When the two sides met in Florence earlier in the qualification phase Italy romped to a 5-0 victory with Antonio Cassano stealing the show.


AFP

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