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Soccer: Prandelli blames low fitness for sluggish start

Italy labour to 2-0 win over Malta after drawing in Bulgaria

Soccer: Prandelli blames low fitness for sluggish start

(ANSA) - Rome, September 12 - Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has blamed low early-season fitness levels for his side's unconvincing start to their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign. Italy, runners-up at Euro 2012, drew 2-2 in their opener in Bulgaria on Friday and laboured to a 2-0 victory over international minnows Malta in Modena on Tuesday. It was the first time the Maltese national team have conceded fewer than five goals during a visit to Italy. "At the moment we are not very sharp," Prandelli said. "It's always like this (in early-season internationals) in September and we have to find the certainties that we had (in various aspects of our game). "To be able to press the opposition and then attack, we need to play at a higher tempo". Despite the off-colour performances, the Azzurri are joint top of European qualification Group B with four points alongside Bulgaria, who won 1-0 in Armenia on Tuesday. Prandelli said he was confident things will be different when his men face Armenia away and Denmark at home in qualifiers next month. "In 25 days' time when we (the national team) meet again, we'll be in different shape. With more energy in our legs, our play will come back too".

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