Two international forces Italy and Russia will meet tomorrow in an international friendly before they both start their run towards a UEFA EURO 2012 championship. This matchup serves as each team's last warm-up before the tournament begins at the end of next week.
Russia will open pool play on June 8 against Czech Republic, and Italy starts its campaign two days later against defending-champion Spain.
Both teams will try to get their work in as clean as possible, as neither can afford to lose anyone to injury, but the game should still be very competitive.
Where: Letzigrund Stadion, Zurich, Switzerland
When: Friday, June 1 at 2:45 p.m., ET
In a scary turn of events, Italy had to postpone its most recent match against Luxembourg on Tuesday after a massive earthquake struck nearby. According to Mail Online, the death toll of 15 civilians is Italy's deadliest earthquake since 2009.
In Italy's only other recent international friendly, they were defeated 1-0 by the United States. They have not won a friendly since a 2-0 win over Poland last November.
Russian midfielder Diniyar Bilyaletdinov was not too pleased with Dick Adovcaat after he was left off the roster for next week's tournament, according to ESPN.com. He was a role player for Russia when they reached the semifinals in 2008 and is distraught over the decision.
For me it's come out of the blue, to be honest. It's a really unpleasant blow. I don't what the way through this is. I can't imagine.
We will have to wait and see if leaving Bilyaletdinov behind will turn out to be a good decision for Advocaat or if he will later regret it.
Quote of the Week: Mario Balotelli on Racism
Racism still plays a big role in the world, even in 2012, and some soccer players are willing to skip matches if they feel they are unsafe. According to ESPN.com, Italy's Mario Balotelli has been a target in the past and fears what could happen when they travel to Poland and the Ukraine.
Let's see what happens at the Euro. I hope that there will not be a problem because I really can't handle that. I cannot bear racism, it's unacceptable for me. If it happened again I would straight away leave the pitch and go home. We are in 2012. It can't happen...I'm black and proud to have African roots. I think I'm lucky to be black. People say about me that I'm a black boy who has fun, earns money and has girls. It's not like that. It's too easy to judge people through what you see.
Prediction: Italy and Russia Draw 1-1
This is not an important game for any team as they are really just looking forward to their upcoming games and hoping that no one gets hurt in the meantime.
Italy will most likely have Gianluigi Buffon in net which gives them an advantage despite Russia's Igor Akinfeev also playing in the friendly. Both are great goalies but I think each team will be able to sneak at least one goal by each by the time the match is ruled final.
Look for Russia's midfielder Roman Shirokov and defenseman Yuri Zhirkov to play well while Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi should be forces in Italy's midfield as well.