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Italy and Russia meet at Helsinki's Olympic Stadium on Monday knowing that following disappointing defeats on Friday the pressure is on to reach the quarter-finals from UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ Group C.
The Azzurre, having beaten England 2-1 in their opener, lost 2-0 to Sweden while Russia held a two-goal lead against Hope Powell's side only to lose 3-2 and remain without a point. A draw would take Italy through, either in second or third place, while Russia have to win and by three goals if England do not lose to Sweden, meaning they better Denmark and are one of the two best third-placed teams. Should England lose, Russia would finish second with a win of 2-1 or better. Any Italy defeat and they are out.
While Italy are currently second, having beaten the side that last defeated Russia, coach Ghedin is cautious. "Russia deserve a better position in the table, they played quite well against England even though they lost," he told uefa.com. "They could have done better, but also Italy could have done something more. We conceded two early goals to Sweden and we shouldn't have done it, we could have avoided that."
With a fully fit side, he is not thinking about settling for a point. "If we draw we are through, but we don't have to think about that; if we play looking for a draw, we will lose," he said. "We must try to win, then we will see what happens on the pitch. We only want to reach the quarter-finals and if we do, I think we can say we did a great thing. Even if we don't qualify I have to compliment my players for what they were able to show here."
Russia coach Igor Shalimov, who has a full-strength side and has hinted that he may make changes, has had the job of picking up his squad after the heartbreaking loss to England. "After two defeats in a row the main thing was to tell the players that nothing terrible has happened," he said. "We still have a chance of progressing. There is only one game left in the group stage and it will be the decisive one. We must win but [on Saturday] we tried to calm down and relax a little bit."
Warning of Italy's strength on the counterattack, Shalimov will treat this game as any other despite potentially needing a convincing win. "I will not order my players to get a big margin of victory because it is difficult to tell how the match will go," he said. "We need to be ready to take the initiative and put our opponents under pressure."
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