Italy be warned against sitting on lead

With the group stages now complete, the 2006 World Cup™ finals now enters the knockout stages and a completely new approach to matches.

With the group stages now complete, the 2006 World Cup™ finals now enters the knockout stages and a completely new approach to matches.

Many variables come in to the stage of the competition and one of the big things will also be the stamina of the sides and their ability to play another four big matches in a short space of time, if they are to crowned World Champions.

Australia will play Italy in its round of 16 match on Monday in Kaiserslautern, knowing they will play one of the masters in this type of football.

So many times we have seen Italy get the early breakthrough and then with trust in their defence, sit and defend the lead, either winning by that single goal or adding several more goals towards the end as the opposition push numbers forward and their defence exposed.

"They are not going to give a lot away and they are the kind of team that can protect a 1-0 lead very well," said excellent defender Lucas Neill. "They will be looking to get a goal whenever they can and we-ll be looking to keep it as tight as possible, for as long as possible."

"We feel stamina wise and physically, we can match any team, if not get above any team because we have got a very, very fit team and we will try and play to that strength."

"They are a ruthless team and its like that in their league, they are used to going out getting a goal and then protecting it. But I can-t see it being a 1-0 against Australia," added Neill.

Midfielder Tim Cahill agreed with Neill-s assessment that he can-t see a 1-0 result at the end of the game and that Australia has shown enough to suggest that if Italy do sit back it will be to their detriment.

"Yeah definitely," said Cahill, if he thought Australia would be dangerous if Italy tried to protect a lead. "We have got a lot of attacking players; a lot of players on the bench that can come on and change a game."

"We showed it against Japan, even against Brazil we tried to go for the game. Yesterday we could have easily gone out there and stuck up two walls and try to defend, but that is not in our character. Even at 2-2 yesterday, we still went for the win."

Neill and his defensive partner Craig Moore both believe that Australia will start the match as massive underdogs, despite three impressive group games and Italy not totally firing on all cylinders.

"We know we go into this game as massive underdogs again," said Moore. "Italy have been very impressive in their groups matches, they are a fantastic team, great individual players and in the next couple of days, we will pay a lot more closer attention to them."

"I agree," said Neill. "Like the Brazil game, no one expected anything from us and it-s a team that has been famous now for many years as a National team; won three World Cups and starred in many tournaments."

"(Player) reputations are massive, playing at some of the biggest clubs in the world, so it-s a David and Goliath situation."

All three players acknowledge that an early goal by Italy will be hard to pull back a fourth time around, but if they stick to the game plan and be patient and get control and to make the most of opportunities.

"We need to basically maintain good control," Moore, who scored Australia-s first goal against Croatia from the penalty spot, told a busy press conference. "I know we are not going to control the whole game, but its important that if we have good spells in the game, we can hope to capitalise on that. It would be nice to actually go ahead in the game."

"Last night really was a Cup Final for us and the position we are in now, every game is like a Cup Final, so you go in and you know you must give everything, which we have done and again you hope that things can fall into place for you."

"Against a team like Italy if they go 1-0 up its going to be a long 88 minutes," said Neill. "It would be nice just to go a goal up for a change and see how a team has to open up and react to us."

"Maybe we can be the team that defends for a bit and pick people off on the break rather than the other way around."

Neill believes the form shown by Australia may frustrate the Italians and our team will approach the match with no fear.

"They are a fantastically talented team, but I think when we played Holland, who are a similar team in technical ability, we played a high pressure game against them and got a very good result and we will trying to do exactly the same against the Italians."

"They will be used to that playing in their league football, but this is the World Cup and anything is possible so we-ll be going out with no fear."