Prandelli: Balotelli and El Shaarawy key

The man in charge of the Azzurri believes his duo of strikers from AC Milan are vital for the national team and that friendlies are important ahead of Wednesday's match

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has spoken of the importance of two of his strikers, Mario Balotelli and Stephan El Shaarawy.

Balotelli joined El Shaarawy at AC Milan last month and both are likely to start for the Azzurri against the Netherlands.

“I do not remember seeing a second striker like El Shaarawy, someone who contributes so much to the team defensively,” Prandelli told a press conference.

“Balotelli meanwhile must become our central focus.

“He is not a striker in the old-fashioned sense but a modern forward who can and must continue to score every time he gets a chance.”

Prandelli also commented on the importance of friendlies despite his team losing all of their last five non-competitive ties.

“Up until now the friendlies have been of great use to us despite the fact that results haven’t been positive.

“They’ve allowed us to test a few things which may have been risky, but have allowed us to experiment ahead of the Confederations Cup.

“At the end of the season, after a few days break, we will be back at Coverciano. These games need to give me the responses I am looking for so that we are fully prepared for when we arrive in Brazil.”

The former Fiorentina coach also revealed he will play a 4-3-3 in the midweek clash with only one uncertainty over his starting line-up.

“I have just one doubt and that is whether to play Candreva or Diamanti on the right. It will depend on whether Candreva has fully recovered from his illness and on how Holland will line-up.”