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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Maldini: English Will Play to Win

FLORENCE, Italy -- Italy coach Cesare Maldini said he did not expect England to play for a draw in its vital World Cup clash in Rome on Saturday.


England needs only a point from its final Group 2 match against Italy to be sure of qualifying for the finals as group winners.


Speaking at the Italian training camp at Coverciano near Florence on Tuesday, Maldini said: "The history of English soccer shows that English teams have a certain idea about playing games, even away games. I mean they come to win them, they come out to play not to look for a draw."


Maldini believes Italy may have a slight psychological advantage not just from playing Saturday's game at home but also from beating England 1-0 in their first group meeting last February.


"No matter what you say, that was a nice stroke," he said. "Not many sides go to Wembley and win a World Cup qualifier."


Maldini is unconcerned that since that February victory England exacted revenge with a 2-0 win in a friendly tournament in France.


"We weren't in the right condition either mentally or physically for that game. England came into that match after a period together in preparation for their World Cup game against Poland while we played them on a Wednesday when most of my players had been playing in Italian league games just three days before."


Maldini conceded, however, that England may have improved since last February.


"I said after England beat us in France that they had played more carefully, more cannily than before."


The Italian coach does not believe his side will get any advantage from the fact that key striker Gianfranco Zola, who plays for Chelsea, has an in-depth knowledge of the England players :


"It's true that Zola knows a lot about them but they know a lot about him," he said.


"In the age of television we all know a lot about each other's league soccer. We all see each other play at club level."


Maldini said he was optimistic Juventus defender Ciro Ferrara would recover from injury in time to play.


Ferrara, who pulled a muscle in Juventus's victory over Fiorentina on Sunday, joined the rest of the Italian squad at Coverciano. He will undergo a fitness test Wednesday.