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Friday, September 24, 2010

Preview: Italy v Portugal

The opening match on the second day of the Four Nations Handball tournament pits Italy against Portugal at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.

Portugal edged a 23-22 win against hosts GB last night in a tight match that the home side lead 12-11 at half time and the jubilant Portuguese celebrations at the final buzzer suggested that they had given a lot physically and mentally to achieve the victory - but have they left enough in reserve for the Italians?

The Italians, who watched that match last night, will be wary of Portuguese centre-back Claudia Correia who top-scored against GB with eight, the majority of which were 7m, and they will have to be on their toes to not give the Portuguese any opportunities from the spot as they will be punished. Left-back Rita Alves will also be one to watch and will give the Italians something to think about in defence.

Italy, on the other hand, will be looking for a better time on court this afternoon following their disappointing performance in their 32-26 defeat against the Swiss in their opening game yesterday.

One ray of hope for the Italians will be their left-back Silvia Scamperle who notched up 11 strikes in that match and is the current tournament top scorer.

Italian coach Tamas Neukum will expect more from his side and will hope that he won’t be making any early time out calls again to remind his team of their duties on court, like he did against the Swiss yesterday.

Scamperle’s team mate, left-wing Cristina Lenardon alongside right-wing Carmen Onnis showed glimpses of the threat that Italy could pose, but the Italians never came close to troubling the Swiss yesterday and will hope for, and need, a much improved performance if they are to get off the mark here in the North West.

Preview by Andrew McSteen

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