San Marino national team will reach Tallinn on Friday afternoon, just 48 hours before the kick-off in A.LeCoq Arena.
The team has gathered in Serravalle for the game preparation camp ahead of the European Qualifiers game in Tallinn on Sunday.
The goalless draw in San Marino created shock in Estonia back in November 2014 and earned San Marino his first historical point in any qualifier.
Coach Pierangelo Manzaroli doesn’t expect a miracle to happen again, especially after Estonia got rid of Finland 2-0. ‘I think we are exchanging roles now,’ said Manzaroli to RTV San Marino ‘they are in full form considering that Estonian top-flight players have reached that in the past weeks (9/11 of the starts against Finland were from Premium Liiga –edit).’
It was a long and tiring season for the San Marino players, both on the athletic and mental point of view. Lately, the 'Murata affaire' added spice to the end of the club season. The club was excluded from the Europa League in favour of La Fiorita following the application of the 'Entries for competition' new rule introduced in 2013 (cup runners-up do not enter Europa League if Cup Winner is also National Champion).
A rule the FSGC completely mishandled by forgetting to cascade into its league system.
Additionally, Manzaroli is facing a real emergency due to the many injuries, especially in the defensive department: Fabio Vitaioli, Davide Simoncini, Fabio Bollini, Pier Filippo Mazza and Enrico Golinucci will not travel to Tallinn.
‘This is happening during a period of turmoil in our football,’ stated Manzaroli referring to the quarrel between FSGC (San Marino FA) and the newly-born players’ union (ASC) back in Spring that brought to Andy Selva being sidelined from the national team for disciplinary reasons. ‘We couldn’t hold any friendly game to test the level of our game during this period, however during games simulations the lads performed well.’
One of the latest worries has been Alessandro Della Valle missing Tuesday’s training session due to a temperature (he will be leaving for Tallinn nonetheless).
Initially, Manzaroli’s plan was to field a 4-1-4-1, however, due to the many injured players, he will switch onto a 5-4-1 with Cristian Brolli being part of the defence. Brolli himself suffered an injury in the past days (adductors strain) however the medical staff is trying to recover him for the international game.
Alex Della Valle and Mirko Palazzi will be competing for the other central defender’s role.
If Palazzi were to get the role, Giovanni Bonini and Manuel Battistini will take the full-back positions. The midfield pack is a competition between four players: Lorenzo Gasperoni, Luca Tosi, Michele Cervellini and Maicol Berretti.
The striker’s place will be a fight between Mattia Stefanelli and Danilo Rinaldi to replace the legendary Andy Selva.
Due to the injuries, Manzaroli might opt to add a couple of players from the U-21. Elia Benedettini (GK) is already in the list, defender Davide Cesarini might be added later. They are both awaited by extra work since San Marino U-21 will take on Estonia U-21 two days later (16th of June) in Haapsalu.
The impression is that it will be very hard for the tiny national team from Mount Titano to repeat the feat that earned them World headlines.