How Italy Will Line Up Against Armenia
It's perhaps the most important match in Armenia's obscure footballing history as they look to clinch a play-off spot in a must-win scenario against Cesare Prandelli's Italian national team.
With that being said, the Azzurri can see this game as a glorified friendly and will continue to experiment with the formation and lineup as they did against Denmark.
As listed above, Prandelli will try out Lazio's Federico Marchetti, a goalkeeper who would be starting for almost any other nation. His quick reflexes and athleticism are a welcome addition, especially when faced with a one-on-one scenario against a streaking opposing attacker.
Prandelli should be fielding a 4-3-3 formation with the speedy Ignazio Abate as the right full-back. The seldom used Manuel Pasqual will operate on the opposite flank.
The left-footed Fiorentina wing-back is an excellent crosser of the ball and will look to sling them in as he pushes forward.
The center back pair is a purely experimental one with Davide Astori set to make only his seventh appearance with the senior side.
There's plenty of technique in the midfield with Andrea Pirlo pulling the strings in front of the defense.
He'll be joined by two other creative midfielders—Alberto Aquilani and Riccardo Montolivo. Expect Montolivo to take a No. 10 role in the formation, linking midfield with attack.
It's a highly deserved start for midfielder Alessandro Florenzi, a player who has thrived as a right winger in Rudi Garcia's revamped Roma side.
Florenzi is highly versatile and can play in the middle of the park and the wing where he loves to track back and help out the defense, as well as venture forward.
Up front is where it gets entertaining.
Milan's bad boy Mario Balotelli will give the Azzurri an element of unexpected brilliance as he joins the electrifying Lorenzo Insigne.
Will Lorenzo Insigne and Mario Balotelli be Italy's striking pair in 2014?
Napoli's diminutive winger has really exploded on the scene since thriving in Italy's second division with Pescara. Insigne has shown an eye for goal, as well as a creative instinct, that will certainly help Balotelli up front.
In the end, it's yet another friendly match for Prandelli's side which has already booked a ticket to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Expect the match to be a highly entertaining one as the San Paolo crowd in Naples will be fired up, and the Armenian national team looks for a miraculous play-off berth.
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