Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Italy-Argentina Preview: Sabella's men aim to continue unbeaten run against the Azzurri

Both sides are in good shape ahead of World Cup qualification for Brazil 2014 and will see this friendly as ideal preparation for their remaining group games

Argentina will warm up for their next World Cup qualifier against Paraguay by looking to extend their unbeaten run over Italy on Wednesday.

The Albiceleste are unbeaten in their past three clashes with the Azzurri, winning the two most recent encounters.

The last meeting was also in Rome's Stadio Olimpico in a friendly in 2001 and Argentina won 2-1, with Kily Gonzalez and Hernan Crespo scoring the
goals for the visitors.

Argentina head coach Alejandro Sabella has picked a strong squad for Wednesday's match with the likes of Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain alongside Erik Lamela in attack.

Sabella's team have not lost in six outings, but have drawn three of their past four, including a 1-1 stalemate in a World Cup qualifier away to Ecuador that would have seen Argentina wrap up qualification for Brazil 2014 if they had won.

Italy have lost two of their past three games, going down to Brazil and Spain at the Confederations Cup before defeating Uruguay on penalties to finish third at the World Cup warm-up event.

In one change to Italy's squad from the tournament, head coach Cesare Prandelli has included Argentina-born striker Pablo Osvaldo.

But, in general, Prandelli has picked a familiar squad full of veterans such as Andrea Pirlo, Gianluigi Buffon, Daniele De Rossi and Riccardo Montolivo.

Italy will use their clash with Argentina as a final test ahead of a busy couple of months of World Cup qualifying.

While Italy sit atop of Group B, they face a set of tough fixtures, with Bulgaria and Czech Republic in September before a trip to Denmark and a home clash against Armenia in October to complete their qualifying campaign.