International friendly preview: Ireland v Italy

Giovanni Trapattoni says the 2-0 Euro 2012 qualifier win over Macedonia was a good preparation for his Republic of Ireland side’s friendly with Italy on Tuesday.Two goals by Robbie Keane kept the Irish level top of Group B with Russia and Slovakia on 13 points.

The goals were Keane’s 50th and 51st for his country although he is unlikely to play in the friendly against Cesare Prandelli’s high-flying Italy on neutral turf in Liege, Belgium, as he pulled up with a sore groin.

“It was important for us to respond with this victory. Not only did we get a victory, but we also did not concede a goal,” Trap told Sky Sports News.

“We suffered a little bit in the second half, but the team understands what I want and what we want.”

Prandelli has been slowly changing the Azzurri’s style of play since he replaced Marcello Lippi after World Cup 2010 disaster.

Recent performances and results have been good, the latest coming in the 3-0 Euro 2012 victory over Estonia.

Statistics showed Prandelli’s team completed 829 passes against Estonia, the most by a team in a Euro 2012 qualifier so far.

“There was pessimism around us at the start of my spell, but we still can’t think that we can beat anyone. We are working hard and the results are helping us,” he said.

Italy are in command of Group C and Prandelli hopes his players will take their impressive form into the friendly with Ireland.

“The most difficult moment for me was when I realised that compared to club football, you have to work differently, because of the short time that I am with the players,” he added.

“The best thing is yet to come because we have not done anything. We will have to reaffirm our desire to play football as quickly as Tuesday.”