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Giggs targets Milan triumph

Ryan Giggs is optimistic Wales can get the result they need against Italy in Milan tonight.

Ryan Giggs believes Wales can still top their UEFA EURO 2004™ qualifying group and secure an automatic place at next summer's finals in Portugal despite surrendering their 100 per cent Group 9 record last month.

Winning run
Wales's sequence of four succcessive qualifying victories came to a halt a fortnight ago when they were beaten by Serbia and Montenegro in Belgrade, courtesy of a 73rd minute debut goal from Drajan Mladenovic, but Giggs insisted that Wales, who face Italy on Saturday, remained focused on topping the group.

Firm belief
"The defeat in Belgrade was a bitter pill to swallow but it won't have any lasting impact on us in terms of confidence or team spirit," Giggs told uefa.com. "We probably should have taken something from the game but it was not a disaster and we still have our destiny in our own hands.

Pole position
"We had built a head of steam in winning our opening four qualifying games but we've lost a game now and we just have to regroup and recapture the form that brought us those four victories. We were two points clear at the top of the group with a game in hand - that game has gone now but we are still top and I'd rather be in our position than that of any of the other teams in the group."

Famous victory
Wales face the Italians on Saturday in Milan's Giuseppe Meazza stadium hoping to repeat their rousing 2-1 win over the Azzurri in Cardiff last October and the Manchester United FC winger insists that they have nothing to fear.

Mutual respect
"We respect Italy and they are probably favorites because of their reputation and home advantage but we will not be going there with any sense of an inferiority complex," Giggs said. "We know we have the ability to beat them and I think the days when a Welsh side would be overawed or star-struck just being on the same pitch as Italy are long gone.

Finishing line
"I think a lot of pressure will be on them rather than us. We will play for all three points but we know a draw will keep us ahead of them and they know it too. There are only two qualifying fixtures remaining after this weekend - our two are at home while Italy still have to travel to Serbia and Montenegro - so I think the emphasis is on them more than us to produce a result.

Miserly defence
"We have only conceded two goals in five qualifying games to date and everyone in the squad has great confidence in our back four. I am sure we will have to weather periods of fierce Italian pressure but our defence has proved it's up to the job before and there's no reason they can't do it again."

Good times
Giggs, who turns 30 in November, will win his 41st cap in Milan and he readily admits there has never been a better time to be involved in the Wales set-up than now.

Summer plans
"It's a joy to be playing in the Wales team at the moment and hand on heart I couldn't say that about my entire international career," he said. "The hardest thing is not getting too carried away because we have not qualified yet and it's important we finish the job. But we know the fans are willing on us on and we will do everything we can to give them what they deserve."

Ryan Giggs' personal website is at www.icons.com