Salvatore Perugini, the Italy veteran, admits defeat in Paris today is more than likely, but is confident the Azzurri will still "try to pull off something" against France in their penultimate Six Nations match. France are overwhelming favourites to comfortably see off Italy and maintain their bid for the Grand Slam. However, having defeated Scotland in their last game and given England a scare before slipping to a narrow defeat, Italy have proved they are no pushovers.
Perugini said they are not turning up at the Stade de France purely to make up the numbers and was confident the result would not be a repeat of last year's 50-8 humili- ation. "Everything's going well," said the Bayonne prop, who will win his 70th cap. "We're confident. The first match against Ireland was difficult, the next ones against England and Scotland went well. "We're facing the match against France with the same determination. Last year we conceded two tries in five minutes at the end of the first half hour that killed the match.
"The aim is to remain in the match as long as possible. We're going to Paris to try to pull off something, give 100 per cent." Marc Lievremont, the France coach, described Italy's performances in the championship thus far as "like a commando operation", and has warned his France team to be on their guard. "We respect this team," he said. "We know they have the potential to frustrate us. It's a top-level match which we have to prepare for with seriousness.
"Italy are a great team, they troubled Ireland, more than troubled England and beat Scotland." * With agencies France v Italy, 6.30pm, Aljazeera Sport +3