UEFA news 1 day ago
Cesare Prandelli has called on Italy to book their place in next summer's World Cup with two games to spare by beating the Czech Republic in Turin on Tuesday night.
Victory for the Azzurri would earn their ticket to Brazil quicker than any Italy national team has ever qualified for the World Cup and Prandelli is hopeful his side will oblige with a further three points at the Juventus Stadium after victory over Bulgaria on Friday.
"We have the necessity and the desire to wrap up qualification," Prandelli said at a press conference. "We have a big opportunity and we must not get anything wrong. I've never thought about it being a record, all I am interested in is qualifying from a particularly difficult group."
Gaining the decisive three points against the Czechs is not something Prandelli is taking for granted. However, Italy struggled to get a draw in Prague and the Italy coach says his opponents must not be under-estimated.
"They have one of the best midfields in Europe," he said. That is an opinion shared by AC Milan's Riccardo Montolivo, whose job it will be to tame them with Daniele De Rossi likely to be shifted back into the heart of a three-man defence.
"We can feel how close we are to our objective, but we also know how difficult it will be," Montolivo said. "In the Czech Republic, they caused us problems and we know it's not going to be easy."
Nevertheless, the Azzurri can count on a warm, vociferous home support in "the most beautiful stadium in Italy, if not Europe," according to Prandelli, who has paid tribute to the fans in Turin.
"We've got to put our opponents under pressure and the 40,000 fans in the stands will give us their enthusiasm," he added. "It's going to be a spectacle for all. Many are coming to see the national team play in Turin, which has not happened for a while."