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Valenciennes: Italy's structure, organisation and strength at set pieces will be the biggest problems the Matildas face on Sunday night (AEST) as they look to open their Women's World Cup campaign with a victory in Valenciennes.
The Matildas are ranked higher than their opponents and are expected to win, but coach Ante Milicic says the Italians have made great strides in their soccer in recent years.
''We are expecting a very difficult game. They are probably one of the most improved teams in women's football,'' he said.
'The big clubs in Italy have invested a lot in the women's game. I have personally seen the majority of their squad play live so I understand the investment they have made.
''I think individually they are very strong, tactically they are very flexible.''
The Matildas will be wary of giving away free kicks and corners.
''They are very strong on set pieces, so we fully respect our opposition. We are going to have to be at our best to perform and get a result from the game,'' Milicic said.
''Their front two are very strong players, they work well together with a lot of combination play. They have got options in that area as well
''You see the quality of [Daniela] Sabatino and [Ilaria] Mauro as well. Two players I Read More – Source