Picking the Right Italy Team to Face Czech Republic
On June 7th, the first place Italian national team will take on Czech Republic in the Group B World Cup qualifiers.
Cesare Prandelli's men will travel to the Generali Arena in Prague to take on a trick Czech side which is third in the group behind both Italy and Bulgaria. With a game in hand, they desperately need points to mount a run to sneak into a European playoff spot.
Here's a breakdown of the team Coach Prandelli should deploy against Czech Republic to have the best chance of getting a positive result.
Unsurprisingly, Gianluigi Buffon is pegged as the starter as he's approaching an astonishing 130 caps with the Italian national senior side.
His main backups are Federico Marchetti and Salvatore Sirigu, both highly capable goalkeepers who could start for most nations worldwide.
Until he decides to retire, expect Gigi Buffon to be Italy's first-choice keeper.
Here's where it gets interesting. The entire defensive lineup changes depending on whether Prandelli elects to go with a 4-3-3 or a Juventus-like 3-5-2 formation.
Assuming he sticks with a 4-3-3, the central defensive pairing will be Bianconeri duo Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli.
On the right, either one of Christian Maggio or the speedy Ignazio Abate will be utilized. Maggio is more comfortable in possession while Abate's main asset is his blazing speed.
On the opposite flank, Milan's young starlet Mattia De Sciglio will most likely be used. De Sciglio is a complete full-back who is the future for both club and country.
It's one of the most potent three-man midfield's in the world. Pulling the strings, Andrea Pirlo will be deployed in front of the defense where he'll take up his usual deep-lying playmaker duties.
Alongside him, expect Pirlo's teammate Claudio Marchisio to do the box-to-box work while either Daniele De Rossi or Riccardo Montolivo take on the opposite spot.
De Rossi gives you slightly more muscle than Montolivo, but the Milan captain has had a fantastic first season at the San Siro and has been used plenty this year by Prandelli.
Prandelli included the ice-cold Stephan El Shaarawy, who hasn't been able to score consistently this entire calendar year. It'll be interesting to see if lingering injuries are still affecting the young Pharaoh, as he had complained of ankle problems in the last few months.
What's a certainty is Super Mario Balotelli spearheading the Azzurri. If his domestic club partner can't make it, Prandelli could go with a true out-and-out striker in Alberto Gilardino, with Balotelli on the left wing, while someone like Alessio Cerci takes up the opposite flank.
Cerci is still an unknown quantity at the national level. Only called up for the first time months ago, he looks like Arjen Robben on a good day. Problem is, these days don't come too consistently, and he has been known to disappear for long stretches.
Final Formation: (4-3-3) Buffon, Maggio, Barzagli, Chiellini, De Sciglio; Marchisio, Pirlo, De Rossi; Cerci, Gilardino, Balotelli.
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