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WC Qualification Europe

  • October 12, 2012
  • • 18:00
  • • Hrazdan, Yerevan
  • Referee: M. Strahonja
  • • Attendance: 25000
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Armenia - Italy Preview: Azzurri aim to make statement of intent

Armenia - Italy Preview: Azzurri aim to make statement of intent

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Cesare Prandelli's side were disappointing in September's matches against Bulgaria and Malta, but will be hoping to prove what they are capable of on Friday

  PROBABLE LINEUPS
ARMENIA
France
Berezovsky
Aleksanyan, Mkoyan, Arz'yan, Hayrapetyan
Mkrtchyan, Yedigaryan
Ozbiliz, Mkhitaryan, Sarkisov
Movsisyan
ITALY

Buffon
Maggio, Bonucci, Barzagli, Criscito
De Rossi, Pirlo, Marchisio
Montolivo
 Osvaldo, Balotelli

Italy will look to make an early statement of intent to their qualification rivals as they travel to Yerevan for what should be, on paper, a straightforward victory.

After drawing with Bulgaria and gaining an unconvincing three points at the expense of minnows Malta, Cesare Prandelli will be hoping for a more convincing performance against a team ranked 56 places below them in the Fifa Ranking.

To ensure this, the former Fiorentina coach will name a full-strength side with the major talking point being the exclusion of Giorgio Chiellini from Italy’s back four in favour of Andrea Barzagli. After his off-field troubles, Domenico Criscito is recalled to the starting XI while Christian Maggio will occupy the right-back berth.

In midfield, Prandelli will select a trio of De Rossi, Marchisio and Pirlo with Ricardo Montolivo being deployed just behind strikers Pablo Osvaldo (who will spearhead the Azzurri attack for the third match in a row) and the returning Mario Balotelli, who will partner with the Roma frontman for the first time.

Armenia, meanwhile, will be banking on a raucous home support as they look to pull off the greatest result in their history. Under head coach Vardan Minasyan, Armenia have been steadily improving as a unit and their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign was their best to date (they finished third in their group and a mere four points from qualification).

With the retirement of full-back Sargis Hovsepyan and the suspensions of Marcos Pizzelli and Gevorg Ghazaryan following their dismissals in the 1-0 defeat to Bulgaria, Minasyan will be forced to make changes to a normally settled team. He will hope, though, that with a fiercely partisan crowd and dangerous players in attack his side can gain a result that sends shockwaves around Europe.

  DID YOU KNOW?
  • Italy are currently ranked eighth in the Fifa rankings.

  • This will be the first official meeting between the Azzurri and Armenia.

  • Cesare Prandelli has selected a squad made up of players from 12 different teams.

  • Armenia won back its sovereignty in 1992 after the break-up of the Soviet Union.
  • Goalkeeper Roman Berezovsky is the most experienced player in the Armenia squad with 73 caps to his name.

  • Head coach Vardan Minasyan has the highest win percentage in Armenia’s history  - 35.7 per cent.

Players to watch

Y. Movsisyan

Position: Attacker

Games: 9

  • 4
  • 3
  • 0
At 25 years of age, Yura Movsisyan has already had a varied career with playing spells in America, Denmark and, presently, Russia. Currently playing for Krasnodar, the striker has scored an impressive 23 goals in 48 games. On international duty, meanwhile, he has been no less prolific: in the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign he netted four goals and provided five assists.

P. Osvaldo

Position: Attacker

Games: 7

  • 4
  • 0
  • 1
The Roma frontman looks to have secured his place as one of Italy's first choice strikers and, with two goals in his four international appearances, he already looks comfortable leading the line. At 26, he is entering the prime of his career and will be hoping that he can forge an effective - and long term - partnership with Mario Balotelli.

Editor's Prediction

Backed by a partisan crowd there is no doubt that Armenia will work hard as a unit and aim to be as difficult as possible for their more illustrious opponents to break down, but the gulf in class between the two sides will become telling as the match progresses. Overall, this should be a comfortable win for the Italians.

Last Five Matches

Head To Head

Armenia

Italy

Wins
0
1
1
Wins

Betting & Predictions

Reader's Predictions

Armenia ARM
Armenia Armenia
Draw
Italy ITA
Italy Italy
19%
77%

Top 3 Predictions

Armenia ARM
0 - 3
Italy ITA
Armenia ARM
0 - 2
Italy ITA
Armenia ARM
0 - 4
Italy ITA

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