FLORENCE, Nov 15 (Reuters) World champions Italy are braced for a ''match of a lifetime'' in their Euro 2008 qualifier against Scotland in Glasgow, goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said today.
''We know we have to prepare for a battle,'' the Juventus player told reporters at Italy's training camp near Florence.
''It's one of the most important matches I have ever played in the national team.
''I fear the atmosphere (we'll encounter) and their desire. It's the match of a lifetime for both sides.
''We respect Scotland but we are not afraid. We might have been scared if we didn't have the necessary experience.'' Italy can reach the Euro 2008 finals if they win on Saturday, although a draw will suffice if they defeat Group B's bottom team the Faroe Islands at home four days later.
Defeat would mean Italy, who are one point behind Scotland and two behind leaders France, would have to win against the Faroes and hope Ukraine beat France at home on the same night to go through.
''I don't even want to consider the hypothesis (of not qualifying),'' Buffon added.
''Our strength is in the group. We won't mess up this game.
Winning would be just reward for the work we have done over the last year and a half.'' The goalkeeper said that if Italy win on Saturday they would dedicate qualifying for Euro 2008 to the memory of a Lazio fan killed by an Italian police officer last Sunday.
The shooting of Gabriele Sandri, 26, after a brawl at a motorway service station sparked a wave of violence, with riots in Rome and crowd trouble at Atalanta's match against AC Milan.
''If things go as we want them to, we have a special dedication ready for the Sandri family,'' he said. ''What happened has touched us.
''Getting a positive result would be the best present we could give. It would be a small but significant sign of serenity and respect in memory of a lad who loved soccer, but whose death was a tragic accident that has nothing to do with this sport.'' Reuters AB DB2248