Italy's post-World Cup progression impossible to judge

MILAN - New Italy coach Cesare Prandelli is not one for jumping up and down on the touchline like a jack-in-a-box and he is not getting carried away with six points out of six against weak Euro 2012 qualifying opponents.

The dismal group stage exit at the World Cup under Marcello Lippi is far from forgotten after a fortunate 2-1 comeback win in Estonia on Friday and a 5-0 victory over the Faroe Islands on Tuesday in Florence.

Both goals in Tallinn came from corners, as did the first against the Faroes where frontman Alberto Gilardino broke his 11-month international scoring drought with a header.

Daniele De Rossi and Fabio Quagliarella's goals on Tuesday were scruffy and Andrea Pirlo netted a late free-kick.

The only real piece of top class skill in open play came when Antonio Cassano thumped in a wonderful third goal against the Faroes, whose world ranking of 118 is surprisingly high.

"We can still improve a lot," Prandelli, picked as Lippi's successor largely because of his pragmatic approach during five years at Fiorentina, told reporters.

He has made wholesale changes to the squad, most notably bringing the mercurial Cassano in from the international wilderness, but the 4-3-3 he feels he is forced to play by Italian football's lack of wingers is not functioning perfectly.

Cassano is being dragged to the left wing too easily where he struggles to do damage while the midfield trio of De Rossi, Pirlo and Riccardo Montolivo are not breaking into the box enough.

Swathes of empty seats in Florence in what was Prandelli's home debut in his former club stadium shows fans have yet to forgive the huge letdown in South Africa.

October's Group C trip to Northern Ireland and home game with Serbia will give a much better impression of where Prandelli's new Italy are at.

"In the World Cup Italy had difficulties because they were all organised teams and if we had not managed to break through the Faroes early it too would have become tricky," Gilardino said candidly.

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