Stankovic wary of tranquil Italians

06 October 2011 06:35

Serbia captain Dejan Stankovic admits he is concerned that Italy will be more of a threat due to their prior qualification for Euro 2012 when the teams meet here on Friday.

Italy have already won qualifying Group C while Serbia are in the fight for second place.

If the hosts win they will guarantee that second spot and a place in the play-offs for Poland and Ukraine next year.

But Inter Milan midfielder Stankovic believes the pressure being off Italy will make them even more dangerous opponents.

"I expect a spectacular match but also a difficult one," Stankovic said in Tuesday's press conference.

"The azzurri have come here calm and without too much pressure and that could create some extra difficulties.

"Maybe it would have been better if the Italians had needed to earn some points here against us.

"If we play well against the azzurri and with the support and heat of a packed Marakana (Red Star Stadium) I'm sure that we can guarantee qualification for the play-offs tomorrow before our trip to Slovenia (on Tuesday)."

Stankovic has no doubt as to who presents the major threat from the Italian side - Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo.

"It's clear that the major threat comes from Pirlo who after a season that was not too great with AC Milan is now playing very well with Juventus," he said.

"Italy have improved a lot under (coach Cesare) Prandelli."

Authorities here in Belgrade are implementing a number of security measures to try to avoid the kind of hooligan problems that led to the abandonment of the previous fixture between the teams in Genoa a year ago.

That led to Italy being awarded the match 3-0 and greatly helped their quest to progress to the finals.

There will be three rings of security around the stadium whilst fans will be barred from bringing objects such as bangers, flares or alcohol into the ground, among a number of other measures.

Source: AFP

World Cup Group G

Belgium 1 0 0 3 3
England 1 0 0 1 3
Tunisa 0 0 1 -1 0
Panama 0 0 1 -3 0
Last updated : 08:44