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2 vs 2
October 16, 2013 12:15 AM IST
Stadio San Paolo — Napoli
Referee:‬ M. Oliver‎
Attendance:‬ 22000‎

Italy-Armenia Preview: Azzurri looking to end Group B on a high

Cesare Prandelli's already-qualified side put in a disappointing performance against Denmark on Friday but will be hoping to make amends in Naples

By Peter Hanson


Armenia play their final World Cup qualifier with a chance of making the play-offs, but face a tough trip to Group B winners Italy.

Vardan Minasyan's side are fifth in the pool but trail second-placed Bulgaria by just one point, meaning they could still finish immediately behind Cesare Prandelli's men.

The scenario is unlikely as it would require Bulgaria and the Czech Republic to draw - with Denmark also failing to beat bottom-placed Malta - while they win in Naples to secure one of the eight best runners-up spots.

Armenia have been inconsistent throughout their qualifying campaign, winning four but losing five of their nine fixtures, but a 2-1 home victory over Bulgaria on Friday ensured they kept their hopes of reaching Brazil 2014 alive.

In terms of team news, Spartak Moscow forward Yura Movsisyan is set to lead the line for Armenia.

The 26-year-old has three goals in qualifying so far, and will look to provide the attacking threat in Tuesday's fixture, while Borussia Dortmund playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan is also likely to start.

Italy, who won the 2006 World Cup, have enjoyed a comfortable campaign in Group B, winning six and drawing three of their nine games to secure automatic qualification.

Milan striker Mario Balotelli - who missed the 2-2 draw with Denmark on Friday - has remained with the squad despite suffering from gastroenteritis.

Meanwhile, Southampton forward Pablo Osvaldo is likely to once again start up front and will look to add to the goal he scored against Morten Olsen's outfit.

Italy are looking for a second qualification win over Armenia, after triumphing 3-1 in the away encounter in October 2012.

Goals from Andrea Pirlo, Daniele De Rossi and Osvaldo were enough for them to claim maximum points in Yerevan.

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