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Italy look to shake off cobwebs

 

Italy and Germany are Europe's most successful teams when it comes to winning the World Cup, but both sides will be keen to improve on their opening qualifying performances for 2014 in Tuesday's second batch of games.

 

Neither lost - Italy came away with a 2-2 draw in Bulgaria while Germany beat minnows Faroe Islands 3-0 - but they were a long way from the impressive sides that met in the Euro semi-finals in June and which saw the Italians prevail 2-1.

The Italians - who went on to lose 4-0 to Spain in the final - shouldn't face too many problems at home to Malta in Modena.

 

However, with a group also comprising fellow Euro 2012 finalists Denmark and Czech Republic they will need a comprehensive victory to help their goal difference ahead of tougher tasks. Their veteran goalkeeper and captain Gianluigi Buffon acknowledges that they must shake off a habit of starting qualifying slowly.

 

Messi-management 

Buenos Aires: Peru's mission to stall Lionel Messi and the Argentine juggernaut at home in their World Cup qualifier on Tuesday may see the team seek inspiration from a famous victory over their South American rivals in Lima 27 years ago.

 

In 1985, Luis Reyna's tight marking of Diego Maradona was key to an upset 1-0 win over Argentina, and Peru will ponder a similar stopping job against another diminutive and sublimely gifted forward in Messi at the Estadio Nacional in Lima.

 

Peru look set to give defensive midfielder Edwin Retamoso the daunting task of tracking Messi. "If the Prof (coach Sergio Markarian) gives me the chance, I won' let him down," Retamoso said.

9/11/2012



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