Italy vs. Malta  2 - 0

Article

Prandelli demands Italy improvement

12 September 2012 02:06

Cesare Prandelli said Italy must improve in several areas, despite winning their FIFA World Cup qualifier over Malta 2-0 in Modena.

Mattia Destro and Federico Peluso grabbed the goals for an Italian team that were frustrated by the minnow visitors, who forced them into a change of formation at the half-time break as attempts to break down the Maltese defence did not come to fruition.

"We were a bit more organised in the second half, showing greater verve and creating more space," Prandelli said.

"We know September isn't our best month and we're not very sharp, but we have to rediscover our enthusiasm, pace and style of play. Some situations will be examined and we'll learn from them.

"(Lorenzo) Insigne did well when he came on and we spread the play with his introduction, getting more down the flanks."

Goalscorer Destro had respect for the away side, while admitting he's keen to play anywhere for Italy after being moved into midfield after the half-time break.

"We played against a very defensive side that stayed solid at the back and it was difficult to penetrate their defences," the 21-year-old admitted.

"I have to compliment Malta, who played a great game in terms of defence and made it difficult for us.

"I adapt and am at the absolute disposal of the squad. I'm happy to play on the right, as I'm young and it can only be positive to learn new roles."

Peluso spoke warmly of the game in which he netted his first senior Italy goal, while also reiterating coach Prandelli's praise of striker Insigne.

"I was pretty anxious at my first start, but the lads and, especially the veterans, put me at ease. It's a night I will remember for the rest of my life," Peluso said.

"Insigne is very talented and a young player with a guaranteed future ahead of him, but he's not the only one and it shows Italy are rediscovering some great players."

Highly regarded Italy debutant Insigne was also keen to speak of his first experience in the blue shirt of his country.

"It was hugely emotional to make my senior debut aged 21. I'm very happy with how the game went for the team and for me," the Napoli forward said.

"I dedicate this debut to my family, who were in the stands, and my girlfriend back home."

Article

World Cup qualifying preview: Italy v Malta

11 September 2012 08:37

Cesare Prandelli's Italy are heavily favoured to record their first win of the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign at the expense of Malta.

The Euro 2012 finalists got their bid for a place at the Brazil showpiece off to a slow start after being held to a 2-2 draw by Bulgaria on Friday, denied the three points by a Georgi Milanov equaliser in the second half.

Prandelli labelled the display in Sofia as 'insufficient' and is expected to ring the changes for Tuesday's clash at Stadio Alberta Braglia in Modena.

With strikers Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano out injured, the Italian coach opted for two forwards short on international experience against the Bulgarians in Pablo Osvaldo and Sebastian Giovinco.

Osvaldo thrived, scoring both his side's goals, but Juventus target man Giovinco was largely ineffective and could be replaced by Osvaldo's Roma team-mate Mattia Destro or Bologna's Alessandro Diamanti, who featured irregularly during Euro 2012.

Prandelli, who changed to a 4-3-1-2 formation against the Bulgarians after initially seeing his 3-5-2 fail to reap reward, indicated he will opt for a more attacking line-up against Malta.

"A lot of things went wrong (against Bulgaria), so much so that on Tuesday we might repeat the 4-3-1-2 against Malta and bring on Diamanti and Destro," Prandelli said.

Midfield stalwart Daniele De Rossi is facing a month on the sidelines after straining his thigh muscle in the opening qualifier, which could open the door for the likes of Antonio Nocerino and Federico Peluso.

Tense exchanges took place between Italian team-mates against Bulgaria and Prandelli has urged his team to show more unity.

"It's not a good sign when players are arguing on the pitch, it shows you have lost your calm, your serenity and the quality of your game also suffers," the 55-year-old said.

Malta, a lowly 139th in the FIFA world rankings, opened their campaign with a 1-0 home defeat to Armenia.

Coached by Italian Pietro Ghedin, a former assistant coach for Italy's national team, the minnows are widely expected to struggle for points in a Group B which also includes Denmark and the Czech Republic.

The loss to Armenia halted a three-match winning run for Ghedin's men, but Malta have been comfortably defeated in each of their four previous encounters against the Azzurri and will find it difficult to avoid the same fate this time around.