Czech Republic vs. Italy: Date, Time, Live Stream, TV Info and Preview

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Czech Republic vs. Italy: Date, Time, Live Stream, TV Info and Preview
Christof Koepsel/Getty Images

The Czech Republic and Italy will both be gunning for three huge points on Friday in Prague as the second half of European qualifying in Group B continues with a colossal matchup.

2012 European Championship runners-up Italy currently lead Group B with 13 points through five matches. But the Italians still have two matches left to play against the Czech Republic, which currently sits third in the group behind Bulgaria with eight points through five matches. 

Each side has five matches left to play in Group B, but will want to pick up some critical points before heading into the fall.

Here we'll get you set with everything you need to know for Friday's pivotal 2014 World Cup Qualifier. 

 

Where: Letna Stadium, Prague, Czech Republic

When: Friday, June 7 at 2:45 p.m. ET

Watch: ESPN

Live Stream: ESPN3.com

 

Player to Watch for Czech Republic: Matej Vydra

Twenty-one-year-old forward Matej Vydra is the leading goal scorer for the Czech Republic in World Cup Qualifying despite only recently being brought up to the senior national team.

The youngster scored twice in his side's 3-0 win over Armenia back in March, establishing himself as a go-to scoring option for the Czechs.

The Udinese forward, who starred on loan at Watford this season, has made four appearances for the Czech national team in 2014 World Cup Qualifying, but is still a threat to score on Friday. 

At 5'11", Vydra isn't a major weapon in the air, but he boasts an unrivaled nose for goal. He scored 22 goals in 48 appearances for Watford this past season and is still improving. It's likely that Vydra will start at the top of the Czech lineup on Friday, 

 

Player to Watch for Italy: Mario Balotelli

Claudio Villa/Getty Images

While there are a number of talented stars to watch for in the Italian side on Friday, all pale in comparison to the always entertaining Mario Balotelli.

The electrifying and mercurial striker has netted five goals in three starts for the Italian national team in 2014 World Cup Qualifying, and even when he's not scoring goals, he's usually the center of attention.

A powerful, quick forward, Balotelli is a handful in the final third and around the box, where he's deadly with the ball at his feet or up in the air. He'll get his chances to score on Friday, but will he put them away?

 

Key Matchup: Italian Defense vs. Czech Attack

Claudio Villa/Getty Images
Gianluigi Buffon has made 17 saves in five starts for Italy in WCQ.

Cesare Prandelli's Italian squad is known for its dominating defense, which is bad news for the Czech Republic, who have been shut out in three of five qualifiers coming into Friday. 

Meanwhile, the Italians have surrendered just four goals through five matches in Group B play thus far.

Sure, Michal Bilek's Czech Republic unit possesses the talent to score on Friday, but Italy is no Armenia or Malta. This is a legitimate World Cup contending squad, and Matej Vydra and company will need to play up to their potential for 90-plus minutes in order to get the result they're looking for.

What will be the result of Friday's match?

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Prediction

Although Italy is the better squad without question, expect the Czech Republic to play with tons of energy with a sea of supporters cheering them on in Prague.

These two nations will play again in Italy in September, so Friday's match will be a bit of a feeling-out process for each side. 

Look for defense to win out however as both teams will more than likely be content to come away with just a single point from this match seeing as the rest of Group B is relatively weak.

Italy 1, Czech Republic 1

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

Follow _Pat_Clarke on Twitter

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