Italy vs. France: Predicting the Two Starting XIs for International Friendly
Italy take on France in a glamour friendly this week, which is bound to generate some real interest.
Cesare Prandelli and Didier Deschamps are well on their way to building successful sides for the 2014 World Cup, and both managers will see this match as an opportunity to gauge how far their sides have come since Euro 2012.
Daniele De Rossi is the big omission for the Azzurri. Prandelli has dropped the Roma midfielder due to being sent off for punching Stefano Mauri in the Derby della Capitale. Club teammate Alessandro Florenzi should earn his first international cap.
Deschamps has recalled Yoann Gourcuff, who has recovered from a knee injury to produce some excellent displays for Lyon of late.
Other news for Les Blues includes Gael Clichy withdrawing from the squad with an injury, which provides a chance for Patrice Evra to nail down the left-back spot. Benoit Tremoulinas will provide useful cover too.
Other injuries include Hatem Ben Arfa and Karim Benzema, while Bacary Sagna is overlooked despite returning to full fitness with Arsenal.
Here are the likely lineups for Les Bleus and the Azzurri.
Probable (4-3-1-2): Gianluigi Buffon; Christian Maggio, Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini, Federico Balzaretti; Antonio Candreva, Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio; Riccardo Montolivo; Pablo Osvaldo, Mario Balotelli.
Leonardo Bonucci will push hard for a start and will look to edge out one of his teammates in Chiellini or Barzagli. Newcastle's Davide Santon returns to the Italy squad, but the Toon full-back will probably feature from the bench.
Elsewhere, Antonio Candreva will probably fill in for Daniele De Rossi, who is left out for disciplinary reasons. Stephan El Shaarawy, Mattia Destro and Sebastian Giovinco are all in contention to start in attack too.
Defenders: Davide Astori (Cagliari), Federico Balzaretti (Roma), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Christian Maggio (Napoli), Federico Peluso (Atalanta), Davide Santon (Newcastle)
Midfielders: Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Alessandro Diamanti (Bologna), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Emanuele Giaccherini (Juventus), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Riccardo Montolivo (Milan), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus), Marco Verratti (Paris St. Germain)
Forwards: Mario Balotelli (Manchester City), Mattia Destro (Roma), Stephan El Shaarawy (Milan), Sebastian Giovinco (Juventus), Pablo Daniel Osvaldo (Roma)
Probable XI (4-3-3): Hugo Lloris; Mathieu Debuchy, Laurent Koscielny, Mamadou Sakho, Patrice Evra; Blaise Matuidi, Maxime Gonalons, Yohan Cabaye; Franck Ribery, Olivier Giroud, Jeremy Menez.
Gael Clichy's injury means that Evra should start at left-back for Les Bleus, with Koscielny and Sakho looking to continue their partnership at the back.
Maxime Gonalons will face competition from Etienne Capoue to assume the role as the side's holding midfielder. Karim Benzema's injury will also mean that Olivier Giroud will attempt to translate his good form for Arsenal of late onto the international stage.
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham/ENG), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Mickael Landreau (Lille)
Defenders: Christophe Jallet (Paris SG), Mamadou Sakho (Paris SG), Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (Montpellier), Benoit Tremoulinas (Bordeaux), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal/ENG), Adil Rami (Valence/ESP), Mathieu Debuchy (Lille)
Midfielders: Etienne Capoue (Toulouse), Maxime Gonalons (Lyon), Blaise Matuidi (Paris SG), Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle), Yoann Gourcuff (Lyon), Moussa Sissoko (Toulouse)
Forwards: Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Bafetimbi Gomis (Lyon), Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich), Jeremy Menez (Paris SG), Dimitri Payet (Lille)