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Sep 3, 2014

Italy v Netherlands: Preview

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Italy captain Gianluigi Buffon firmly believes Antonio Conte is the right man to turn the Azzurri's fortunes around.

Conte was appointed as Cesare Prandelli's successor last month and will guide Italy for the first time in Thursday's international friendly against Holland in Bari.

Prandelli resigned shortly after the Azzurri's humiliating first-round exit from the World Cup in Brazil.

Buffon, who has worked under Conte the past three seasons at Juventus, said in a press conference: ``I believe Conte is the only one that in a brief time can give us the strength to rise again.

``I see him now as I saw him at Juve, with very clear ideas, transmitting concepts without the possibility of being misunderstood.

``Conte is a perfectionist, a coach and a man that believes in discipline and rules.

``I believe we, the players, need this type of guidance.''

Conte, who guided Juve to three straight league titles before stepping down this summer, left out Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli from his squad for tactical reasons.

The Azzurri are without the services of Giuseppe Rossi, Daniel Osvaldo, Andrea Pirlo and Gabriel Paletta, all out injured.

Moreover, Giorgio Chiellini is doubtful with a muscular problem although the Juve defender could recover in time for Italy's Euro 2016 qualifier at Norway on Tuesday.

Borussia Dortmund's Ciro Immobile, the only striker included by Conte that played at the World Cup, is expected to lead Italy's attack alongside Sebastian Giovinco.

Immobile was last season's top scorer in Serie A with 22 goals for Torino.

The game at the San Nicola stadium will mark the return of Guus Hiddink to the Holland hotseat.

Hiddink, who led the Oranje to the semi-finals of the 1998 World Cup, replaced Louis van Gaal this summer.

The 67-year-old tactician has inherited a side that only lost to Argentina on penalties to finish third at this summer's World Cup.

``This team feels like a gift,'' Hiddink said. ``The players are much better footballers having made unbelievable progress this summer.''

The Dutch, however, will not be at full strength against Italy with Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Rafael Van der Vaart, Arjen Robben, Jordy Clasie and Ron Vlaar out injured.

Wesley Sneijder is set to play in support of attacking pair Robin van Persie and Memphis Depay.

Holland begin their European qualifying campaign in Prague against the Czech Republic on September 9.

ends

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