Italy face a stern test in their third and final group game against Slovakia in Johannseburg. Nothing but three points will do for Marcello Lippi’s men in their quest to reach the last 16 in their defence of their world title.
A disappointing two points from a possible six leave the Azzurri dangerously close to elimination from the competition at the first hurdle. They remain without number one goalkeeper Buffon for the encounter with Slovakia, however there is an encouraging possibility that Andrea Pirlo could play some part. Goalscorer Iaquinta is expected to retain his place up front in the starting line up, partnering Gilardino.
The Italians are not heavily fancied by the bookmakers, 11/8 the best price for a victory; however a possible outcome is unpredictable and anything other than a win and Italy will have to rely on results elsewhere, similar to the situation faced by England.
Slovakia also have mixed form coming into the game, despite losing to a convincing Paraguay perfomance and throwing away a win in the dying embers of their opener against New Zealand it is still not impossible for them to qualify.
Is is the job of Marcello Lippi and his players to restore pride and silence the critics back home. But bearing in mind the fate of the French, a win is not to be taken for granted.
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