Lippi: A Buffon header would do

TURIN - A header from goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon would be enough for Italy coach Marcello Lippi if it meant his stuttering side beat Bulgaria on Wednesday and moved to the brink of World Cup qualification.

The world champions have been woefully short of form in recent months and needed two Kakha Kaladze own goals to win 2-0 in Georgia on Saturday having not scored in three previous matches.

"I don't feel goals are a problem. Tomorrow one of their defenders can score again, or Buffon with a header. The important thing is to win," Lippi told a news conference on Tuesday.

The Group Eight leaders would go four points clear of second-placed Ireland with victory in Turin and would then need just a point against the Irish in Dublin on Oct.10 to progress to next year's finals in South Africa.

Creativity has been lacking in midfield and in a training match on Tuesday Lippi left struggling playmaker Andrea Pirlo out of what looked like a potential starting lineup.


The World Cup winner refused to name his team but a switch back to 4-3-3 from 4-4-2 is possible.

"This time I will have to think about the team right up until the last moment. Given Saturday's match it is right to make changes," he said.

"This team has quality, not just athletic but technical quality. We have better weapons than critics say."

Lippi has had to constantly defend his decision to overlook Sampdoria's creative talisman Antonio Cassano and, with Roma's Francesco Totti retired from internationals, the options to liven up their play are limited.

Recent Juventus signing Fabio Grosso is likely to come in at left back for his first appearance at his new home ground while team mate Claudio Marchisio has shaken off a thigh knock and could play on the left of midfield.

Strikers Vincenzo Iaquinta and Giuseppe Rossi offered little threat in Tbilisi so Alberto Gilardino and Fabio Quagliarella are pushing for starts with Luca Toni out due to a heel injury.