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Next

Marcotti: Platini's missed opportunity

FIFA 18 hours ago
Read
Mar 20, 2013

Azzurri aim to make statement vs. Brazil

Italy head coach Cesare Prandelli is refusing to give Brazil any tactical clues as the Azzurri bid for a first win over the South American nation in over 30 years.

The Swiss city of Geneva will host Thursday night's international friendly and, prior to his squad's departure from Coverciano, Prandelli faced questions about his apparent decision to partner Pablo Osvaldo with Mario Balotelli in attack, with Juventus' Emanuele Giaccherini seen training in midfield at the expense of regular starter Riccardo Montolivo.

The former Fiorentina boss would not be drawn on his lineup, though, as Italy looks to warm up for next week's World Cup qualifier against Malta by securing a first victory over Brazil since the 1982 World Cup.

"I have to prepare well for this game without giving any kind of advantage to Brazil," Prandelli told figc.it. "You can infer some of our plans having watched our training session, though. It's a game we want to play to the best of our ability so we can make life difficult for Brazil."

A Paolo Rossi hat trick in Barcelona saw the Azzurri through to the last four 31 years ago, but Prandelli hopes memories of the goalless World Cup final in 1994 can spur his players on.

"I remember the pain of losing out to Brazil on the lottery of a penalty shootout," he said. "But that was still proof that Italy have the potential to go far whenever they apply themselves."

Thusday's game also serves as a fact-finding mission for both nations, who will meet again at the Confederations Cup in June.

Prandelli, however, can already identify the Selecao's biggest attacking threat.

He said: "Which player do I fear the most? Neymar.

"We are taking on a team that is rich with talent, with technically-gifted players that like to get at you from deep positions. But we know how to make things difficult too."

Prandelli will treat Thursday's game like a competitive fixture after recent friendly encounters saw Italy beaten 2-1 at home by France and then struggle to draw 1-1 in Holland.

The exact starting XI may be a closely guarded secret but defender Giorgio Chiellini will definitely not feature due to an ankle injury, with AC Milan full-back Ignazio Abate struggling with a muscle complaint.

Prandelli could instead hand 20-year-old Mattia De Sciglio his Italy debut on the left side of a defense featuring Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Christian Maggio.

Giaccherini could then join Andrea Pirlo, Daniele De Rossi and Claudio Marchisio behind Osvaldo and Balotelli, with Stephan El Shaarawy starting on the bench.

Brazil are hosting next year's World Cup and do not have to qualify but recent practice games have not inspired much confidence, with a 1-1 draw against Colombia preceding 2-1 defeats to both Argentina and England.

Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari only took two training sessions before the England game, having replaced Mano Menezes at the end of November, but Thursday's game and next week's meeting with Russia in London should give a better indication of how his new-look squad is starting to gel.

He told Mediaset: "Italy are way ahead of us in terms of rebuilding their team. My Brazil side have played two games but Prandelli's team are the European Championship runners-up."

The 2002 World Cup-winning manager has Real Madrid forward Kaka as an option behind an attacking trident drawn from Neymar, Diego Costa, Hulk and Fred - with Ramires, Paulinho and Lucas all unavailable through injury.

Defenders David Luiz, Thiago Silva and Dante can expect to be flanked by Daniel Alves and Marcelo, with Fernando and Hernanes deployed in the center of midfield.

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