Italy’s Mancini wary of physical Lithuania and Vilnius pitch

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Italy coach Roberto Mancini has said Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier against a physical Lithuania side will not be easy and highlighted his concerns over the playing surface in Vilnius.

Italy have won two out of two from their Group C matches and they remain unbeaten in their last 24 games.

The Azzurri’s third qualifier for the Qatar 2022 finals is at the LFF Stadium and Mancini is taking nothing for granted despite his team’s positive start.

“Lithuania are a physical team that defends well,” he told a news conference on Tuesday. “They will do better than they did against Switzerland (in Sunday’s 1-0 defeat) and a third match in a short period is always very difficult.

“The standard of the pitch is a concern. We are not used to playing on surfaces like this but we have two days to try it out.”

Mancini, who indicated he may hand a debut to Atalanta defender Rafael Toloi, also discussed his frustration over the uncertainty of whether fans will be allowed to attend Italy’s Rome games during this year’s European Championship.

As it stands, the rescheduled Euro 2020 tournament is still going ahead as planned, with games taking place across Europe, but it is uncertain whether fans will be present in all host city stadiums.

“I don’t know why the government has not given the green light to play European Championship matches in Italy with the public at the stadium since there should be a lot of vaccinated people,” said Mancini.

“I have no idea whether they will be there or not. I hope things are okay for June, even a little earlier.”