Italy - Denmark Preview: Both sides with a point to prove after disappointing outings

Although the Azzurri currently sit top of Group B, they have still come in for criticism. A solid victory over the Danes at home, however, could see the hosts garner more support


De Sanctis
Maggio, Barzagli, Chiellini, Criscito
Marchisio, De Rossi, Pirlo
Balotelli, Osvaldo

Jacobsen, Kjaer, Agger, Mtiliga
Kvist, Kristensen
Rommedahl, Eriksen, Krohn-Dehli

Following their unconvincing victory over Armenia, Italy welcome Denmark for what should be a more rigorous examination of their World Cup dreams.

Whilst gaining three points at Armenia’s expense was undoubtedly Cesare Prandelli’s main priority he will have been dismayed by the catalogue of defensive errors made by his backline. Accordingly, Giorgio Chiellini will be recalled at the expense of Juventus team-mate Leonardo Bonucci.

With Prandelli choosing to alter his back four, he may be forced into one additional, unwanted change following the news that Gianluigi Buffon is unlikely to recover from a thigh strain in time to face the Danes. As a result, Napoli’s Morgan De Sanctis will be given a rare chance to prove his international pedigree.

On the plus side, there is more positive news regarding Mario Balotelli. The enigmatic forward was forced to sit out the Armenia match due to flu-like symptoms, but the noises coming out of the Italian camp are encouraging and he should start alongside in-form Pablo Osvaldo.

Denmark, meanwhile, will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing 1-1 draw away to Bulgaria. The Danes have drawn their opening two fixtures and lie second from bottom of Group B.

Defeat in Milan could spell a premature end to any hopes of qualifying but, with a fully fit starting XI, head coach Morten Olsen will be hoping that a victory over the Euro 2012 finalists can kick start his team’s campaign.

  • Following his goal against Armenia, Pablo Osvaldo has scored six goals in six games for club and country this season.

  • If Mario Balotelli plays against Denmark it will be his first involvement for Italy since Euro 2012.
  • The last meeting between these sides in 2004 ended in a 0-0 draw.

  • If Nicklas Bendtner scores against Italy, he will become Denmark’s 10th highest goal scorer.

  • This will be Morten Olsen's 92nd match in charge of Denmark.
  • In his time in charge, Denmark’s win percentage is just over 50 per cent.