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Italy vs Slovenia: Preview, Game Time, Analysis and More

BARI, ITALY - AUGUST 10:  Gianluigi Buffo of Italy during the international friendly match between Italy and Spain at Stadio San Nicola on August 10, 2011 in Bari, Italy.  (Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images)
BARI, ITALY - AUGUST 10: Gianluigi Buffo of Italy during the international friendly match between Italy and Spain at Stadio San Nicola on August 10, 2011 in Bari, Italy. (Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images)
Matt FaulconerFeatured ColumnistAugust 28, 2011

The top two teams in Group C square off in a pivotal match that could all but seal the top spot for Italy. The Italians currently lead Slovenia by five points and would push that ahead to an insurmountable lead if they come away with a victory at home.

Italy is currently ranked No. 7 in the world and have tons of confidence entering this match. They are coming off of a recent 2-1 victory in an international friendly over the World Cup Champions, Spain.

Slovenia needs to come away with a road victory to have any chance at winning the group, but would likely be happy with a draw to maintain their hold on second place ahead of Northern Ireland.

Prior to this match, Italy will meet Faroe Islands, and Slovenia will meet Estonia. Both matches take place on September 2nd.

Where: Artemio Franchi, Italy 

When: September 6, 2:45 ET 

Biggest Storyline: Serie A Strike

The Serie A strike is making headlines not just because of the impact it has on the league, but also the impact it has on the home-grown players who play for the Italian National Team.

It will be interesting to see if these players are up to form after missing some additional time due to the strike.

Player to Watch for Italy: Giuseppi Rossi

Rossi is such an exciting player to watch, especially when he steps onto the pitch for the Italian National Team.

He has an explosive shot that can seemingly score from anywhere on the pitch. Look for him to make an impact in this game. He will certainly take his chances to test the keeper from anywhere on the pitch, and is capable of putting in a stunning goal.

Player to Watch for Slovenia: Samir Handanovic

The Slovenian goalkeeper is going to be hit hard from every angle as the Italian attack bears down on him.

Italy has a ton of weapons up top and will be sure to apply plenty of pressure against Slovenia in this match. If Slovenia is going to have any chance of winning, Handanovic will have to be on his game.

What They're Saying:

According to Yahoo Sports, Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has just named his roster for the match. Here are the players who will be able to suit up against Slovenia and Faroe Islands,

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Morgan De Sanctis (Napoli), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris St Germain)

Defenders: Davide Astori (Cagliari), Federico Balzaretti (Palermo), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Mattia Cassani (Fiorentina), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Domenico Criscito (Zenit St Petersburg), Christian Maggio (Napoli), Andrea Ranocchia (Inter Milan)

Midfielders: Alberto Aquilani (AC Milan), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Riccardo Montolivo (Fiorentina), Thiago Motta (Inter Milan), Antonio Nocerino (Palermo), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus)

Forwards: Mario Balotelli (Manchester City), Antonio Cassano (AC Milan), Alberto Gilardino (Fiorentina), Sebastian Giovinco (Parma), Giampaolo Pazzini (Inter Milan), Giuseppi Rossi (Villarreal).

Final Analysis:

Slovenia hung tough with Italy the last time around in what was an intense defensive struggle. Slovenia was only able to put three shots on target, while the Italians got six on target.

However, Italy left Slovenia with a 1-0 victory. The same thing will happen this time as Italy should comfortably come away with a win barring heroics from Slovenian keeper Samir Handanovic.

Final Score

Italy: 2 - Slovenia: 0

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