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Italy look to end Group C leadership chase

Published: Wednesday 31 August 2011, 10.09CET
The finals are in sight for unbeaten Group C leaders Italy as they gear up for games against the Faroe Islands and Slovenia but there is no shortage of candidates for second place in the section.
Italy look to end Group C leadership chase
Italy are within sight of a place at UEFA EURO 2012 ©Getty Images
 
Published: Wednesday 31 August 2011, 10.09CET

Italy look to end Group C leadership chase

The finals are in sight for unbeaten Group C leaders Italy as they gear up for games against the Faroe Islands and Slovenia but there is no shortage of candidates for second place in the section.

Italy will look to confirm their place in UEFA EURO 2012 with six more Group C points, but the battle for the runners-up slot in the section remains fierce, with Slovenia's position under threat from Northern Ireland, Serbia and even fifth-ranked Estonia, while the Faroe Islands have proved durable opponents and will make a little bit of history against the Azzurri.

2 September: Northern Ireland v Serbia, Slovenia v Estonia, Faroe Islands v Italy

6 September: Estonia v Northern Ireland, Serbia v Faroe Islands, Italy v Slovenia

Latest standings

Italy (16 points)
If Italy win in the Faroe Islands then beat Slovenia, their finals place is secure. ACF Fiorentina striker Alberto Gilardino and Cagliari Calcio defender Davide Astori are back in Italy's 24-man squad, but Juventus forward Alessandro Matri misses out with a knee injury. Villarreal CF's Giuseppe Rossi joined up with his team-mates a day late, on Tuesday, as his side had a league match on Monday night.

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Morgan De Sanctis (SSC Napoli), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris Saint-Germain FC).

Defenders: Davide Astori (Cagliari Calcio), Federico Balzaretti (US Città di Palermo), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Mattia Cassani (ACF Fiorentina), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Domenico Criscito (FC Zenit St Petersburg), Christian Maggio (SSC Napoli), Andrea Ranocchia (FC Internazionale Milano).

Midfielders: Alberto Aquilani (AC Milan), Daniele De Rossi (AS Roma), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Riccardo Montolivo (ACF Fiorentina), Thiago Motta (FC Internazionale Milano), Antonio Nocerino (US Città di Palermo), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus).

Forwards: Mario Balotelli (Manchester City FC), Antonio Cassano (AC Milan), Alberto Gilardino (ACF Fiorentina), Sebastian Giovinco (Parma FC), Giampaolo Pazzini (FC Internazionale Milano), Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal CF).

Slovenia (11 pts)
NK Maribor defender Mitja Viler is the only newcomer in the Matjaž Kek's squad, with the absence of forward Zlatko Dedič more pronounced, with the squad regular yet to play for his club, VfL Bochum 1848, this season. "Only three points against Estonia will keep us in race for EURO 2012," said Kek. "Fortunately, we don't have any major injury problems, though Matej Mavrič has some issues with a hamstring."

Goalkeepers: Vid Belec (FC Crotone), Jasmin Handanović (NK Maribor), Samir Handanović (Udinese Calcio).

Defenders: Mišo Brečko (1. FC Köln), Boštjan Cesar (AC Chievo Verona), Branko Ilić (FC Lokomotiv Moskva), Bojan Jokić (AC Chievo Cerona), Matej Mavrič (Kapfenberger SV), Marko Šuler (KAA Gent), Miral Samardžić (FC Sheriff), Mitja Viler (NK Maribor).

Midfielders: Armin Bačinović (US Città di Palermo), Valter Birsa (Genoa CFC), Josip Iličić (US Città di Palermo), Andraž Kirm (Wisła Kraków), Robert Koren (Hull City AFC), Aleksandar Radosavljevič (ADO Den Haag), Dare Vršič (NK Olimpija Ljubljana).

Forwards: Zlatan Ljubijankič (KAA Gent), Milivoje Novakovič (1. FC Köln), Tim Matavž (FC Groningen), Nejc Pečnik (PFC Krylya Sovetov Samara).

Northern Ireland (9 pts)
Manager Nigel Worthington, whose side have a game in hand on Slovenia, hailed the return of Kyle Lafferty and Chris Brunt to his squad, from injury and suspension respectively, as a "major boost". "To have those two players back in the group for two massive games is a real plus for us," added Worthington, adding: "We've put ourselves in an excellent position in the group, but we've got to kick on now and go for it. There's a great incentive there for the players."

Goalkeepers: Maik Taylor (unattached), Lee Camp (Nottingham Forest FC), Alan Mannus (Saint Johnstone FC).

Defenders: Jonny Evans (Manchester United FC), Ryan McGivern (Crystal Palace FC), Craig Cathcart (Blackpool FC), Gareth McAuley (West Bromwich Albion FC), Aaron Hughes (Fulham FC), Lee Hodson (Watford FC), Chris Baird (Fulham FC).

Midfielders: Grant McCann (Peterborough United FC), Niall McGinn (Brentford FC), Jonny Gorman (Wolverhampton Wanderers FC), Corry Evans (Hull City AFC), Steven Davis (Rangers FC), Sammy Clingan (Coventry City FC), Pat McCourt (Celtic FC), Chris Brunt (West Bromwich Albion FC).

Forwards: Warren Feeney (Plymouth Argyle FC), David Healy (Rangers FC), Jamie Ward (Derby County FC)*, Kyle Lafferty (Rangers FC), Josh McQuoid (Millwall FC).

*Withdrawn

Serbia (8 pts)
Serbia coach Vladimir Petrović will be without injured trio Nemanja Vidić, Nikola Žigić and Miloš Krasić but has recalled Duško Tošić, who takes his place in the national squad after a 15-month absence. "There are two hard matches ahead of us," said Petrović, whose side also have a game in hand on Slovenia. "I am an optimist and believe that we will be successful." Captain Dejan Stanković can become only the second Serbian to reach 100 caps if he plays in both qualifiers and close in on Savo Milošević's 102-cap record.

Goalkeepers: Bojan Jorgačević (KAA Gent), Damir Kahriman (SC Tavriya Simferopol), Bojan Šaranov (Maccabi Haifa FC).

Defenders: Branislav Ivanović (Chelsea FC), Nenad Tomović (US Lecce), Milan Vilotić (FK Crvena zvezda), Milan Biševac (Paris Saint-Germain FC), Neven Subotić (Borussia Dortmund), Aleksandar Kolarov (Manchester City FC), Duško Tošić (FK Crvena zvezda), Slobodan Rajković (Hamburger SV).

Midfielders: Dejan Stanković (FC Internazionale Milano), Zdravko Kuzmanović (VfB Stuttgart), Radosav Petrović (Blackburn Rovers FC), Ljubomir Fejsa (Olympiacos FC), Miloš Ninković (FC Dynamo Kyiv), Nemanja Tomić (FK Partizan), Zoran Tošić (PFC CSKA Moskva), Adem Ljajić (ACF Fiorentina).

Forwards: Miralem Sulejmani (AFC Ajax), Milan Jovanović (RSC Anderlecht), Marko Pantelić (Olympiacos FC), Jovan Damjanović (FK Borac Čačak), Ranko Despotović (Urawa Red Diamonds).

Estonia (7 pts)
Tarmo Rüütli has named his strongest squad, but Sander Puri will miss the Slovenia game through suspension, while the nation's 33-year-old Andres Oper is omitted as he continues to search for the new club. While their group position is not calamitous, Rüütli's men have lost their last five games by an aggregate 15-0 scoreline and are keen to make amends.

Goalkeepers: Sergei Pareiko (Wisła Kraków), Pavel Londak (FK Bodø/Glimt), Artur Kotenko (Ravan FK).

Defenders: Karl Palatu (FC Flora Tallinn), Raio Piiroja (Fredrikstad FK), Enar Jääger (Aalesunds FK), Gert Kams (FC Flora Tallinn), Ragnar Klavan (AZ Alkmaar), Taavi Rahn (Tianjin Songjiang FC), Andrei Stepanov (FC Gomel), Tihhon Šišov (Xäzär Länkäran FK), Taijo Teniste (FC Levadia Tallinn).

Midfielders: Aleksandr Dmitrijev (FC Ural Ekaterinburg), Dmitri Kruglov (FC Rostov), Sander Puri (Lombard-Pápa TFC)*, Ats Purje (Ethnikos Achnas FC), Konstantin Vassiljev (FC Amkar Perm), Martin Vunk (Nea Salamis FC).

Forwards: Tarmo Kink (Middlesbrough FC), Jarmo Ahjupera (Újpest FC), Kaimar Saag (Silkeborg IF), Sergei Zenjov (FC Karpaty Lviv).

*Slovenia game only

Faroe Islands (4 pts)
Left-back Einar Hansen and left-sided midfielder Símun Samuelsen return after missing the 4-0 defeat against Northern Ireland through injury, while Pól Jóhannus Justinussen is available after serving a suspension. The game against Italy will be the national team's first home match under floodlights; the newly installed 40m-tall lamps are the tallest structures in the Faroese capital, Torshavn.

Goalkeepers: Jákup Mikkelsen (ÍF Fuglafjørdur)*, René Tórgard (EB/Streymur), Kristian Joensen (07 Vestur)**.

Defenders: Atli Gregersen (Víkingur), Einar Hansen (NSÍ Runavík), Jónas Tór Næs (Valur Reykjavík), Jóhan Davidsen (Aarhus Fremad), Rógvi Baldvinsson (Ålgård FK), Viljormur Davidsen (FC Fyn).

Midfielders: Fródi Benjaminsen (HB Tórshavn), Símun Samuelsen (HB Tórshavn), Daniel Udsen (EB/Streymur), Bogi Løkin (ÍF Fuglafjørdur), Súni Olsen (B36 Tórshavn), Atli Danielsen (B36 Tórshavn), Hjalgrím Elttør (KÍ Klaksvík), Pól Jóhannus Justinussen (Valur Reykjavík), Christian Lamhauge Holst (Silkeborg IF).

Forwards: Jóan Edmundsson (Newcastle United FC), Arnbjørn Hansen (EB/Streymur), Christian Mouritsen (Valur Reykjavík).

*Withdrawn
**Called up

Last updated: 01/09/11 17.53CET

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http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/finals/news/newsid=1664323.html#italy+look+group+c+leadership+chase

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