Italy started their World Cup qualification campaign for Brazil 2014 in less than impressive fashion.
The Azzurri drew 2-2 in Sofia with a Bulgaria side which is considered to be going through a period of development.
Italy had impressed everybody at Euro 2012 by reaching the final and was expected to cruise through their group in the qualifiers for World 2014. Italian head coach Cesare Prandelli described the performance in Sofia as negative and stated that his team played far too many long balls.
Italian football isn’t usually associated with long balls and is usually more associated with passing football, which they produced at Euro 2012. Their passing game seemed to go missing against the Bulgarians.
One positive for the Italians was the performance and brace of striker Pablo Osvaldo. The 25 year-old Argentina-born striker has made a decent start to his international career with the Azzurri and will be hoping for another chance against Malta.
Italy will be expected to win Group B and on paper should be the favourites. Unfortunately football isn’t played on paper. However, Italy should, and probably will still win Group B. If they don’t then it will be a big shock.
However, the likes of Czech Republic and Denmark will be looking for Cesare Prandelli’s men to slip-up, so that they can capitalise on any mistakes.
Italy faces Malta this evening in what should be a straightforward victory for Prandelli’s men. Even without the likes of Manchester City Mario Balotelli and Roma captain Danielle De Rossi the Azzurri should have enough to easily defeat the Maltese.
Italy has to beat the minnows in the group with more difficult encounters against the Danes and the Czechs to come later in the group. I fully expect Italy to qualify from this group and that campaign will no doubt be given a kick-start with a victory over Malta this evening.
Will Italy win Group B?
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