Trapattoni relishes reunion
Giovanni Trapattoni will go head-to-head with a man he always expected to become a manager during their days together at Juventus in Tuesday night's friendly at the Maurice Dufrasne Stadium in Liege.
The 72-year-old Ireland boss is revered for the job he did in two spells with the Turin club, the first of which saw him work with midfielder Cesare Prandelli, his latest successor as Italy coach. Prandelli may not have been one of the superstars in the team, but Trapattoni knew he could always rely on him, and expected him to go on to bigger things.
Trapattoni said: "He [Prandelli] was my player and I have a great affection for him, and I wish him the best of luck for the [Euro 2012] qualifying campaign. But I am not wishing him good luck for tomorrow."
The veteran manager added: "He was a very intelligent player - he wasn't the best player when I had him at Juventus, but he was a great man, one of those players that any coach would like to have.
"He was a reserve, but he was one of those reserves that you could count on - and when you needed him, he was always ready to step in and be counted.
"A great team needs reserves like that, reserves who are always ready to step in and deliver. It's a coach's dream to have players like that."
However, Trapattoni will have no qualms about upsetting his former stalwart when the pair meet at the home of Standard Liege.
The Ireland boss will once again take a look at some of his fringe players with several of his key men - Shay Given, defenders Richard Dunne, John O'Shea, Kevin Kilbane, Aiden McGeady, Damien Duff, Kevin Doyle and Robbie Keane - all missing.
Prandelli will make changes in the wake of Saturday's comfortable 3-0 qualifier victory over Estonia in Modena, but there will be no room for complacency with the Republic, whose 1-0 win over the Italians at the 1994 World Cup finals is the stuff of legend, having drawn home and away with predecessor Marcello Lippi's side during the last campaign.
He said: "Prandelli is trying to develop his team and he will look at new options, other young players. That's important for us and it's important for Prandelli too."