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Donadoni hopes Italy avoids repeat of 1984 as it struggles to reach Euro 2008

Donadoni hopes Italy avoids repeat of 1984 as it struggles to reach Euro 2008

Only three months into the job as Italy coach, Roberto Donadoni is struggling to get the World Cup champions to the Euro 2008 championship.
Unless the Azzurri turn things around soon, they could be headed for a repeat of their European flop the last time they won the world title in 1982.
After winning the World Cup in Spain, Enzo Bearzot's team failed to qualify for the 1984 Euros in France with only one victory in eight games.
With only one point from two Group B matches and five to make up on leaders Scotland and France, Donadoni's team is in similar trouble and has to respond with a victory over Ukraine in Rome on Saturday.
A newcomer to international coaching, Donadoni says he doesn't feel under pressure.
"I can guarantee you I don't feel isolated," said the former AC Milan midfielder. "I feel the players' desire. Unfortunately there's a tendency (in Italy) to make easy things difficult. There should be more respect. Criticism is part of our world. It's the insults that don't have any part in it."
The Italians, who won the World Cup under Marcello Lippi in Berlin three months ago, have taken a long time to recover. Francesco Totti is sitting out international play until he has fully healed from a leg injury.
But Donadoni has nearly all the other World Cup stars available and reportedly will field an adventurous 4-3-3 formation against Ukraine in the Stadio Olimpico.
"I haven't decided anything yet. I'm going to think about it until the last minute," said Donadoni, who believes his team is improving despite last month's 3-1 loss to World Cup runner-up France. "Our condition is certainly better than a month ago."
A victory on Saturday would be a big confidence booster as Italy aims to capture one of the two qualifying spots from each of the seven groups. Ukraine's star striker, former AC Milan star Andriy Shevchenko, has a fever and his absence would make Donadoni's task easier.
The fact that Scotland and France face each other at Glasgow's Hampden Park on Saturday is also in Italy's favor, with the Italians hoping that game ends in a draw. French coach Raymond Domenech has recalled Nicolas Anelka as cover for Louis Saha and Sidney Govou, who could both miss the game through injury.
While Donadoni doesn't appear in any immediate danger of losing his job, Spain's veteran coach Luis Aragones is hanging on to his by his fingertips.
After a surprise 3-2 loss to Northern Ireland a month ago, he offered his resignation only for the Spanish federation to turn it down. If Spain loses again to main Group F rival Sweden in Solna on Saturday, that would mean a six-point difference to make up and Aragones could be on his way out.
Although the Swedes have won both group games against Latvia and Luxembourg, they will be without star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who declined to play after falling out with coach Lars Lagerback. Forward Marcus Allback is also doubtful due to a stomach injury and goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson is still out with a knee injury.
With 22 games scheduled for Saturday and 22 more on Wednesday, qualification from the seven groups will start to take shape.
England hopes to make it a maximum nine points from three Group E games by beating Macedonia at Old Trafford. Striker Wayne Rooney is back from the three-game suspension that followed his World Cup quarterfinal red card against Portugal. With second-place Israel facing a tough visit to Russia, Steve McClaren's team could open up a three-point lead at the top.
After a competition record 13-0 victory over San Marino a month ago, Germany has a friendly against Georgia on Saturday and is almost certain to be overtaken by its main Group D rival, the Czech Republic. After that humiliating loss, San Marino travels to Liberec to take on the Czechs, who are level on points with the Germans with six points from two games.
"It doesn't matter if we score 13 or six," said Czech striker Milan Baros, who has recovered from a foot injury. "The most important thing for us is to win, even just 1-0."
European champion Greece began its defense with a 1-0 victory at Moldova and now has a tough game at Group C leader Norway, which has won both games so far. Group G leader Netherlands goes to second-place Bulgaria and Romania, which is third, hosts Belarus.


Updated : 2021-04-16 10:26 GMT+08:00