Italians aim for attacking approach

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The Independent Football

The new Italy coach, Giovanni Trapattoni, is looking to carry on where his predecessor Dino Zoff left off as the Italians begin their World Cup qualifying campaign against Hungary in Budapest today.

The new Italy coach, Giovanni Trapattoni, is looking to carry on where his predecessor Dino Zoff left off as the Italians begin their World Cup qualifying campaign against Hungary in Budapest today.

Under Zoff, Italy exceeded all expectations by reaching the final of Euro 2000 in July, when they lost to France in the final. Despite Zoff's unexpected resignation after the tournament, it will be an almost identical team which faces a Hungary side looking to reach their first World Cup finals since 1986.

The only change Trapattoni is expected to make is to move Roma's Francesco Totti into his preferred role behind the front two, rather than play him in the striker role he was given by Zoff. With the attack-minded Stefano Fiore likely to play alongside Demetrio Albertini in the centre of midfield, Trapattoni's team should have a more attacking shape.

With the Serie A season not kicking off for another month and Italy choosing not to play a friendly in August, the bulk of the squad have yet to play a competitive match since Euro 2000 - unlike the Hungarians who have been in league action for more than a month.

Despite the lack of match practice, Totti believes that Italy's class should be enough to see them past Hungary. "Unlike our opponents, we haven't had four of five games this season but we have to show our superior tactical and technical quality," said Totti. "With three attackers we have the chance to impose ourselves on the game from the first minute."

Trapattoni's toughest decision will be deciding who partners the Juventus striker Filippo Inzaghi in attack. In the final against France, Zoff opted for Roma's lanky forward Marco Delvecchio, who responded with the opening goal, but Trapattoni may choose to give Alessandro Del Piero, who disappointed at Euro 2000, a chance to play alongside his Juventus strike partner.

Hungary failed to qualify for Euro 2000 and it is now 14 years since they last appeared in the finals of a major international tournament. Their last bid to reach the World Cup finals ended in humiliation as they were hammered 7-1 at home to Yugoslavia in the play-offs for France 98.

In yesterday's early World Cup action, Aki Riihilahti scored the winner in the 67th minute as Finland beat Albania 2-1 in Helsinki. Jari Litmanen, Finland's top player, had given his side the lead in the closing seconds of the first half.

Edvin Murati equalised after 64 minutes, deflecting in a mis-hit shot by Altin Rrakli. Finland's Janne Saarinen was sent off after 72 minutes for earning two yellow cards.

In Oslo, Armenia held Norway to a surprise 0-0 draw. The Tottenham midfielder Oyvind Leonhardsen hit a post with a low shot while Chelsea's Tore Andre Flo also went close several times for the home side.

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