Cesare Prandelli's men face a tough test against the Asian champions, coached by Italian Alberto Zaccheroni, but they know a win could potentially seal a semifinal berth.Italy will be hoping to book a place in the Confederations Cup semifinal with victory over Japan on Wednesday at Arena Pernambuco, with Cesare Prandelli expected to keep faith in the same XI that beat Mexico 2-1 on Sunday.
Gianluigi Buffon is the only player from both sides that survives from the two nations' last meeting in an international friendly in 2001, though Prandelli could yet drop Emanuele Giaccherini for Stephan El-Shaarawy.
Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni, meanwhile, will be buoyed with Keisuke Honda's outing against Brazil on Saturday, with the CSKA Moscow player coming through unscathed despite previous injury worries.
With the Samurai Blue side needing a positive result to remain in the competition, Zaccheroni could well deploy Ryoichi Maeda up front and push Stuttgart's Shinji Okazaki out wide, as the Asian champions aim to spring a surprise.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Italy qualified for the tournament by virtue of finishing runner-up at Euro 2012. Spain qualified as world champion, with the Azzurri invited as UEFA's representative.
- The 2006 world champion last encountered Japan in an international friendly in Saitama in 2001.
- Japan qualified for the Confederations Cup by winning the 2011 Asian Cup in Doha.
- This is Italy's second appearance in the tournament, after also qualifying in 2009. In contrast, this is the Asian side's fifth campaign.
- Italian national Alberto Zaccheroni (pictured right) coached extensively in Serie A, winning the Scudetto with Milan in 1998-99.
- Italy sits eighth in the world rankings, with Japan lying in 32nd place.