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Italy - Malta Preview: Prandelli's side look for their first win of qualification against minnows
The Azzurri will host the island nation in Modena, with Roma captain Daniele De Rossi unavailable through injury
By Alex Mott
Cassani, Barzagli, Bonucci, Peluso
Marchisio, Pirlo, Nocerino
Muscat, Agius, Dimech, Borg
Cohen, Schembri, Sciberras, Fenech
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli is likely to opt for a 4-3-1-2 formation on Tuesday against Malta, after the Azzurri played out a nervy 2-2 draw with Bulgaria last Friday, fielding a 3-5-2.
The only forced change Prandelli will have to deal with is the departure of Daniele De Rossi, who limped out of the game in Sofia with a thigh strain. Antonio Nocerino should come in and replace the Roma man, playing alongside Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio.
In defence, Federico Peluso and Mattia Cassani should come in at full-back to replace Christian Maggio and Emanuele Giaccherini. Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci keep their places.
In the trequartista role, Alessandro Diamanti is expected to line up behind the all-Roma pair of Pablo Osvaldo and Mattia Destro.
For Malta, they are expected to name a relatively unchanged team for the side that lost 1-0 to Armenia at the weekend.
The only change coach Pietro Ghedin could make would be to bring Ryan Fenech in for Roderick Briffa in centre midfield.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Italy remain sixth in the latest Fifa rankings, whilst Malta are way down in 139th.
- Roma striker Pablo Osvaldo, who was born in Buenos Aires, scored his first two goals for the Azzurri against Bulgaria on Friday.
- Tuesday's game will be played at Modena's Alberto Braglia stadium, as a show of solidarity and support for victims of a recent earthquake in the Emilia region of Italy.
- Italy have played the archipelago nation four times, winning all the ties by a combined score of 15-2.
- The Azzurri did not lose a single game during their Euro 2012 qualification campaign, sealing qualification with two rounds to spare.
- Malta are managed by Pietro Ghedin, who between 1996-2004, was the assistant coach of the Italian national team.
- Striker Michael Mifsud is Malta's leading all-time goalscorer, with 36 goals.
- The Maltese Falcons lost their last World Cup 2014 qualification match 1-0 at home to Armenia.
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Top 3 Predictions
Italy 3-0 Malta
- 22.37 %
Italy 4-0 Malta
- 16.89 %
Italy 2-0 Malta
- 13.38 %
|World Cup Qualifying - UEFA (WCQ)||Mar 26, 2013||Malta 0 - Italy 2|
|World Cup Qualifying - UEFA (WCQ)||Sep 11, 2012||Italy 2 - Malta 0|
|Mar 26, 2013||Malta 0 - Italy 2||WCQ|
|Mar 21, 2013||Italy 2 - Brazil 2||FR|
|Feb 6, 2013||Netherlands 1 - Italy 1||FR|
|Nov 14, 2012||Italy 1 - France 2||FR|
|Oct 16, 2012||Italy 3 - Denmark 1||WCQ|
|9||Pablo Daniel Osvaldo||Striker|
|12||Morgan De Sanctis||Goalkeeper|
|-||Angelo Obinze Ogbonna|
|Pablo Daniel Osvaldo|
After his goalscoring exploits in Bulgaria, the Roma striker will be looking to add to his international tally against a team who regularly concede plenty of goals.
The 31-year-old forward is one of the most famous Maltese players of all time, and has a decent strike rate for his nation. If his team are to take anything from this match, Misfud will be required to lead from the front.
Despite the disappointment of drawing in Bulgaria, the Azzurri should have no problems seeing off the minnows in a comfortable victory.