Italy to play two higher-ranked teams

Updated: 25 February 2007 10:40 IST

Italy is the only seeded team at the World Cup that will play two higher-ranked opponents in the first round.

Italy to play two higher-ranked teams

London:

Italy is the only seeded team at the World Cup that will play two higher-ranked opponents in the first round. It seems a strange happenstance, but when the FIFA rankings are involved, things sometimes get confusing. Italy, which is ranked 13th by soccer's world governing body but was rated as one of the top eight teams for the tournament in Germany, will play the second-ranked Czech Republic and No 5 United States in Group E. The Italians, who won two of the first three World Cups and then added another title in 1982, first play 48th-ranked Ghana, which is also in the group. "At the moment I am only thinking about the match against Ghana, because the first game is always the most important," Italy coach Marcello Lippi said. "The outcome of that match, whether we win, lose or draw, will decide how we will approach the second game. And the second game decides the approach for the third, and so on." The bigger burden may be finishing in a position where it will avoid five-time champion Brazil in the second round. The Czech Republic will face Italy in its final group match, and the loser could be the team that plays the defending champions, assuming Brazil wins Group F ahead of Croatia, Australia and Japan. The only other seeded team that will face a higher-ranked team in the first round is Argentina. The two-time World Cup champions are tied for eighth in FIFA's list, but face the third-ranked Netherlands in Group C. (AP)



Topics : Football Italy
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