Prandelli confident against Slovenia
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli described Tuesday's 2012 European Championships qualifying clash with Slovenia here as a first match point.
Italy only need two points from their final three Group C matches to secure their path to Poland and Ukraine next year, meaning that a victory in any one of those will see them through.
And despite admitting he was unhappy with the Azzurri's performance in the Faroe Islands on Friday -- where they laboured to a 1-0 success against the part-timers -- he said he was confident they would beat Slovenia.
And he is sticking to his formation without a recognised out-and-out striker, playing instead with two deep-lying players in Antonio Cassano and Giuseppe Rossi.
"I'm convinced we're on the right path, even if we've had many difficulties," he said from Monday's press conference at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
"I'm sure we can win this game, we have players who can do the unexpected and who don't give their opponents a point of reference.
"When we've established greater security and conviction that this is the right way, we'll shine and win even more.
"This is our first match point, we have every possibility of progressing and I hope we'll realise this great dream.
"We need to eliminate the times when the team loses its balance and becomes too individualistic, we have to go on to the pitch with a few but clear ideas."
The only changes Prandelli has made to his team from the one which won in the Faroes is at full-back with Mattia Cassani and Federico Balzaretti coming in for Christian Maggio and Domenico Criscito respectively.
Prandelli said that was due to the amount of running the full-backs need to do in his system meaning they work harder than anyone else.
Although Italy were far from convincing against the Faroes, as they have been several times under Prandelli, their recent results have been excellent.
Six wins and a draw in seven Group C games as well as a victory over Spain and a draw with Germany in friendlies.
And yet this at a time when everyone is talking about the crisis in Italian football.
Italy has lost a place in the Champions League next season and already this season three teams have been knocked out of European competition -- out of the four that have played matches.
There is also an obvious lack of genuine talents with the erratic and unpredictable pair Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli widely regarded as the two best players in the country.
And yet one is a substitute at AC Milan and the other has yet to start a game for Manchester City this season.
Italy's ability to get results under these circumstances and yet to still be criticised is a strength in Prandelli's book.
"We're never happy, that's our strength and it's right to always look for more," he said.
"We're living a great moment and we have a responsibility, we have a very important image."
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