Related

Article

Prandelli wary of Croatia

23 February 2014 15:54

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli admitted he is wary about facing Croatia in qualifying for the 2016 UEFA European Championships.

The Italians were among the top seeds in pot one and find themselves in Group H alongside Norway, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Malta and the dangerous Croatia.

Prandelli was pleased to avoid Belgium and Switzerland from pot two, but does not believe those sides are better than Croatia and also feels most of the teams in Italy's group offer a significant threat.

"It's true that we avoided Belgium and Switzerland, but I don't think that Croatia are inferior to those two teams that everybody wanted to avoid in pot two," he said.

"This is not as easy a group as many could think. Croatia and Bulgaria are potential group winners, Norway are a good side and Azerbaijan are improving fast.

"We have faced Malta recently (in FIFA World Cup qualifying) and we know that won't be easy. It is a tough group and we will have to prepare ourselves very well if we want to qualify."

With the finals in France not taking place for another two years, Prandelli will seek to integrate some of Italy's younger players in their qualifying campaign.

He added: "There are five or six players who played in the last Under-21 tournament and are very promising. We now have to integrate them."

Croatia coach Niko Kovac acknowledged that Italy will be expected to win the group, but the former Bayern Munich midfielder remained optimistic concerning his side's chances.

"I am satisfied with the draw, but to be objective, I think Italy are the favourites in our group," Kovac said.

"The rest of the teams are also serious contenders and during the qualifying we will need to switch between different styles of play.

"It will be very interesting, but I am absolutely optimistic and thinking positively about our task to reach Euro 2016."

Bulgarian coach Luboslav Penev was also encouraged by the draw, but recognises his side face a stiff test.

Penev added: "The group is hard, but not impossible. The obvious favourites are Italy, a team we know very well. The other teams also have their chances.

"We know a lot about Italy and Malta – we played them both during the last World Cup qualifiers and we know each well. Norway are a solid side and Croatia have some world-class players. (It is) a tough draw, (but) we have a decent chance to go further."

Sponsored links

Thursday 18 December

13:43
13:24
13:07
12:45
12:41
12:28
12:26
12:01
11:35
11:12
11:03
10:49
10:48
10:34
09:55
09:46
09:27
05:48
05:16
04:47
04:28
04:18
04:05
04:01
03:43
02:38
01:17
00:44
00:21
00:11
00:05

Wednesday 17 December

23:43
23:41
23:37
23:29
23:22
23:15
23:10
23:05
23:05
23:01
22:39
22:37
22:02
21:14
20:05
19:55
18:11
17:38
17:27
17:16
17:04
16:59
16:58
16:33
16:06
16:04
15:49
14:16
13:45
13:43
13:42
13:42
13:42
12:11
11:55
11:37
10:52
07:25
06:11
05:44
04:04
03:49
02:32
02:15
01:18
01:13
00:05
00:04

Tuesday 16 December

23:58
23:55
23:49
23:40
23:37
23:06
22:47
22:44
22:21
21:48
21:15
21:10
20:56
20:33
20:12
18:46
18:21
17:22
17:10
16:20
16:19
15:17
15:06
15:05
13:45
13:37
13:09
12:31
11:25
11:09
10:21
09:30
09:24
08:52
08:10
06:47
06:44
05:20
04:02
03:18
01:41
01:37
00:13

Facebook