Italy and Germany will meet this weekend in a friendly encounter designed to give both sides an indication of how preparations are progressing ahead of next summer's World Cup.
The two teams will both be expected to challenge for places in the latter stages of next year's competition and, in that respect, provide the type of challenge needed with just a few months to go until a major tournament.
Date: Friday Nov. 16
Time: 7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET
Venue: San Siro, Milan
Lazio and Germany ace Miroslav Klose is set to miss this month’s internationals against Italy and England. http://t.co/QAHRKUGsxC— footballitalia (@footballitalia) November 11, 2013
Any game between the two nations will always be fiercely contested, with the two countries having a long-standing footballing rivalry that was last seen in the semifinals of last year's European Championship—a contest Italy won against pre-match expectations.
Marco Parolo and Domenico Criscito are recalled for Italy ahead of the encounter, while Reuters reports via Yahoo that Germany will likely be without striker Miroslav Klose. Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller, meanwhile, is a first-time inclusion for the match, per Sky Sports.
In the past five encounters between the sides it is the Azzurri who have dominated with four wins and one draw. It is a run Joachim Low will be desperate to end ahead of next summer and a potential meeting in the latter stages.
Top Players to Watch
When Balotelli is on the field it can be hard to watch anybody else at times. The Italian striker has endured a difficult few months this season as attention once more shifts to his off-field activities and discipline, per Alan Wilson of the Mirror.
When focused, though, he can be truly sensational, and Azzurri boss Cesare Prandelli has generally been able to encourage the best out of the Ghanaian-born forward—with Balotelli having a one-in-two goalscoring record at international level.
The Germany defence is not the side's strong point, while both Mats Hummels and Per Mertesacker missing their clubs' respective matches at the weekend. Balotelli is the perfect man to take advantage of any weakness with his clever runs in behind the defence.
Even in his times of trouble at Manchester City, Balotelli was still able to come to the fore for his country, and Prandelli will hope to see him at his powerful best this weekend.
Germany's key creative player, Ozil has largely been sensational for Arsenal since his summer arrival and, while he was quiet against Manchester United at the weekend, will have had a week to rest ahead of the encounter.
The attacking midfielder has scored two goals and provided four assists in the league, per ESPN FC, to help his side top the Premier League and a make good start in their Champions League group. Once more, he will be the man Germany look to for inspiration.
The second-top scorer in the German squad, behind Klose, Ozil has come good for his country on many occasions and will look to use his vision to cause problems for what is at times a slow Italian defence.
With the likes of Thomas Muller, Mario Gotze and Andre Schurrle around him, Ozil will be key to Germany's hopes of a win if he can get into space behind the midfield.
Italy 2-2 Germany