BELGRADE - Serbia will be fired up to beat
Italy in their Euro 2012 Group C qualifier on Friday after
losing the reverse fixture in Genoa by a 3-0 walkover because of
crowd trouble, says winger Milos Krasic.
The Italians, who have sealed a berth in next year's finals
with two games to spare, were awarded the win after Serbian fans
caused a riot and forced the game in the Luigi Ferraris stadium
to be abandoned after six minutes last October.
"We lost more or less without kicking a ball and that will
give us the extra motivation to prove our worth and show that we
can beat a team of Italy's stature," Juventus winger Krasic told
a news conference on Tuesday.
"It's been a while since we beat a team of that quality at
home so we are looking forward to what should be a great match
played in a good atmosphere.
"Although they have already qualified, the Italians will not
come here to just go through the motions because they are a
world-class team and take every game seriously.
"Five of my Juventus team mates are in the squad and Andrea
Pirlo will be a constant threat because he pulls the strings in
midfield for club and country.
Serbia's Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic added on
Wednesday: "We have to be very cautious although a win would
seal a play-off berth for us, because Italy are so good at
scoring against the run of play."
Italy have 22 points from eight matches ahead of the Serbia
game and their final group match at home to Northern Ireland in
Pescara on October 11.
Serbia have 14 from eight and a win against either Italy or
last-match opponents Slovenia would allow them to finish second,
meaning they would at least clinch one of the eight play-off
Estonia have 13 from nine and are also eyeing a runners-up
finish, while Slovenia, who have 11 from nine, need to beat the
Serbians and hope other results go their way.
The winners of Europe's nine qualifying groups and the best
second-placed team will qualify automatically for next year's
finals in Poland and Ukraine while the other eight runners-up
enter two-leg play-offs for the remaining four berths.
Although Italy are likely to receive a feverish reception
from Serbian fans, their coach Cesare Prandelli said they had no
fear of playing in the cauldron of Red Star Belgrade's Marakana
stadium whose capacity is 55,000.
"We don't have any fears about the game in Belgrade and
there will be no sort of problems with their fans," Prandelli
told reporters earlier this week.
"Serbia need a win and we have already qualified. Let's not
speculate on the result, but I expect a good performance," he
Serbian Football Association (FSS) president Tomislav
Karadzic warned the home fans that UEFA would not tolerate any
misbehaviour on Friday.
"UEFA have qualified the fixture as a high-risk one and the
body will certainly show zero tolerance for any kind of trouble,
but I am convinced that we will have a good atmosphere and
represent our country in the best possible way," he said.
Serbia coach Vladimir Petrovic is pondering whether to
change his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation into a more adventurous
4-4-2, with Marko Pantelic and Milan Jovanovic up front to be
backed by wingers Krasic and Zoran Tosic.
Prandelli, who has picked a strong squad, is likely to field
Antonio Cassano in attack with Sebastian Giovinco in a deeper
role behind him.
Mario Balotelli and Giampaolo Pazzini are among the strikers
ruled out through injury.
Serbia: Bojan Jorgacevic; Branislav Ivanovic, Neven Subotic,
Slobodan Rajkovic, Aleksandar Kolarov; Milos Krasic, Radosav
Petrovic, Dejan Stankovic, Zoran Tosic; Milan Jovanovic, Marko
Italy: Gianluigi Buffon; Christian Maggio, Andrea Barzagli,
Giorgio Chiellini, Mattia Cassani; Alberto Aquilani, Daniele De
Rossi, Andrea Pirlo; Antonio Cassano, Giuseppe Rossi, Pablo
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