Armenia need a 'miracle'

Armenia goalkeeper Roman Berezovsky is aware they need "a miracle" to reach the play-offs ahead of Tuesday's clash with Italy.

Last Updated: 14/10/13 at 15:26

Armenia in action against Czech Republic

Armenia in action against Czech Republic

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Armenia goalkeeper Roman Berezovsky is aware his side need "a miracle" to reach the play-offs heading into Tuesday's Group B game against Italy.

Vardan Minasyan's men go into their last World Cup qualifier in Naples on the back of a 2-1 triumph over Bulgaria.

Friday's result lifted Armenia to fifth place, but just one point behind Bulgaria, who are second. Armenia still have a slim chance of finishing second and reaching the play-offs, but they must beat Italy and hope other results go their way.

They require for Bulgaria and the Czech Republic to draw in Sofia and for Denmark to fail to beat bottom side Malta at home.

"The chances of advancing from the group were not that great to start with, and now they are virtually impossible," Berezovsky told www.sport.news.am.

"A miracle needs to take place for us to be able to battle for the play-offs."

Not even a second-place finish might be sufficient for Armenia or any of the other Group B sides to progress to the next round.

Only eight of the teams that come in second from the nine European qualifying pools will reach the play-offs. As it is, Bulgaria have the lowest points total of the teams currently in the runners-up positions.

"It is clear that, in all likelihood, no one in our group will advance except for Italy," Berezovsky said.

Italy are unlikely to take Armenia lightly and for good reason.

Armenia bounced back from a slow start to the qualifying campaign - they won just one of their opening five games - by taking three victories in their last four games.

The Italians have already clinched top spot in the pool and are assured of a place in next year's tournament in Brazil after winning six of their nine qualifiers.

However, Azzurri coach Cesare Prandelli will expect an improved performance from his players than they managed in their 2-2 draw at Denmark last time out.

The Italians looked to be heading for their first loss in qualifying before Alberto Aquilani came to the rescue with a last-gasp equaliser in Copenhagen.

"In recent games we have given away too many goals (three in their last two encounters)," Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini told the Italian federation's official website www.figc.it.

"It's not just the problem of our back line but of all the team.

"We want to end our qualifying campaign in the best possible way. Since 2010 up to now, we have only lost two official games and when it matters, we deliver."

AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli could feature on Tuesday having missed the encounter in Denmark with the flu.


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