Prandelli: Italy must earn World Cup seed

With the Azzurri already qualified for the World Cup next year, the manager is urging his side not to ease up in its last match against Armenia.
Cesare Prandelli has challenged his Italy side to finish off its World Cup qualifying campaign with a victory as crucial ranking points are at stake for Brazil 2014.

Italy, which has already qualified for next year's tournament, is currently projected to finish as one of the top seeds for the World Cup, which will go to the seventh highest-ranking teams in the October FIFA rankings in addition to Brazil.

With Netherlands and Switzerland ready to take advantage of any slip-ups, Prandelli is demanding his side takes three points against Armenia in Group B.

"We need the win, we must be seeded," Prandelli told reporters. "These days there have been too many distractions and it worries me.

"We are facing a team that can still finish second. Armenia can trouble us. We must do well. Recently in doubleheaders we have been a bit ponderous, this time I want motivated people on the field.

"Let's not forget that they have good players on the counterattack, and that they can put us in trouble with long balls."

While Prandelli is aware that a potential draw or worse could jeopardize the Azzurri's chances of being among the top seeds with Brazil, Spain, Argentina and Germany, Prandelli says he will make a few changes to the starting XI.

"The team? After training we will be more precise. I have yet to assess some of the players. But there will be several changes," Prandelli said. "[Mario] Balotelli? It's too early to say if he will play. He had stomach problems. Yesterday he had a good training session and he felt fine. Later we'll be able to better see if he will play."