Italy vs Argetina preview

Italy will be looking to end a run of four straight home defeats to Argentina when the two teams meet on Saturday at the Bentegodi stadium in Italy.

The Pumas have won seven of the last nine meetings between the teams, including all four of those in Italy, although the Azzurri have won two of the last three in South America.

But it is this losing home sequence that the Italy players are particularly keen to put to bed.

“We just hope we win on Saturday to put an end to this series of strange results, us winning there but losing here,” said Argentine born prop Martin Castrogiovanni.

“I think we can do it but we have to play the perfect game, we have to put them under pressure.”

Hooker and vice-captain Leonardo Ghiraldini believes Argentina’s success in Italy shows that they feel comfortable when they play over here.

It it perhaps not so surprising, though, given many Argentine players have Italian roots while several in the Italy squad were born in Argentina.

“We’ve not won at home over the last few years so this shows that they come here and feel good,” said Ghiraldini.

“They prepare to beat us and impose their game. It will be intense, we’re motivated to win, I’m sure they will give it their all and not let up for one second, it will be very physical and tough.”

And it is that battle up front, in which both Castrogiovanni and Ghiraldini will be highly involved, which is going to be the key.

“Argentina are a top level team up front, their scrum is very united, it’s their base, it’s the way they’ve played for years,” said Ghiraldini.

“We have to be organised in the scrum, just like our other phases.

“We’ve played them many times and we know how important the fight is up front, not just to get good ball out to the backs but also on a mental level.

“It’s a very important game, they will also look to dominate up front because if they can hurt us there they’ll be hoping we lose our heads in other parts of our play.”

Argentina winger Gonzalo Camacho also believes that the crux of the battle will be in the forwards, but he says that should the teams get the ball into their backs’ hands, then his side have the edge.

“The battle is really there (in the forwards) and on Saturday it’s going to be there,” said the Harlequins back.

“It’s going to be physical but we think that if we can win that battle, and we have the ability to win it, and release the ball quickly, then we’ll do better things in the hands with our backs.

“Man-to-man we’re better than them in the backs and we can make the difference there, but first we have to win the forward battle.”

In a game that is likely to be played largely between the packs, like the teams’ clash in Turin two years ago, Camacho believes there is extra onus on the backs to produce something when they do get their hands on the ball.

“It’s extra pressure because if you have less ball you have to perform 100 percent every time you get the ball,” he said.

“The less opportunities you have the more pressure there is on you so you have to exploit every one.”

Both sides will be missing crucial players as Italy have lost flanker Mauro Bergamasco to a shoulder injury while Pumas fly-half Juan Martin Hernandez is still suffering a thigh problem.

But Camacho thinks Argentina are best equipped to deal with their loss.

“Hernandez is a really important player for us, he’s amazing, the dream number 10 of every team he played in,” said the winger.

“But things happen, you have to accommodate that and play with what you have and it’s not like we have no-one to replace him.

“We have a big name in Felipe Contepomi who’s a great player, very experienced and I think he will do well too, so we don’t have any problems.”

In June Contepomi played at fly-half and scored 31 points as Argentina hammered France 4

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