If Slovenia are looking forward to Friday's UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against Italy in Ljubljana, defender Boštjan Cesar is perhaps more excited than most. Cesar not only scored the winner against the Azzurri in a FIFA World Cup qualifier in October 2004, he now plies his trade for Serie A side AC Chievo Verona. UEFA.com caught up with the 28-year-old centre-back, capped 52 times by his country, ahead of the Group C visit of Cesare Prandelli's team and Slovenia's subsequent trip to Northern Ireland.
UEFA.com: Two key matches await Slovenia in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying, with the Italy fixture particularly important for you.
Boštjan Cesar: Absolutely. It's not every day you get to play a superpower like the Azzurri. Some people are saying this new-look Italy side are more vulnerable, but Italy are favourites wherever they play, including here. They will certainly be more motivated because we beat them at home in 2004, and we were the last team to beat Italy before they became world champions, but that doesn't count for much today.
UEFA.com: In October 2004 you scored your first goal for Slovenia, against Italy in Celje. What do you remember of that night?
Cesar: Amazing memories. I had only been on for five minutes and we got a free-kick on the right. Nastja Čeh put a great ball into the penalty area, and I saw the opportunity before Gigi Buffon, so, as it turned out, it wasn't actually that difficult to beat one of the best goalkeepers in the world with my header.
UEFA.com: Could there be a repeat on Friday in Ljubljana?
Cesar: Why not? We have proved ourselves capable of competing with anyone in the world. We have a lot of discipline, a great goalkeeper and we are tactically mature. Whatever the opposition, our aim at home must be three points. In fact, the Northern Ireland match in Belfast next Tuesday will be no less important than the Italy one.
UEFA.com: From your experiences in Serie A this season, where do you think this Italy team are vulnerable?
Cesar: With footballers as good as Italy's, there aren't really any weak points. They can only be beaten if you play well collectively and show good team spirit. The big question is, who will play for Italy? There is huge competition for places and we will have to wait until kick-off to find out who plays. As for Italy, I have to say I love it at Chievo. The club is like a big happy family and Verona is a lovely city, which also happens to be close to Slovenia. So I can't complain about this season even if we haven't played that well recently.
UEFA.com: Should Slovenia beat Italy, will you get some nasty looks when you return to Verona?
Cesar: No trouble. There are no Italian internationals in our side anyway, so I won't have too many problems with my team-mates. But we have been talking a lot about this match, so I can't wait to go back with three points in the bag for Slovenia and none for Italy.
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