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World Cup qualifying preview: Italy v Malta

11 September 2012 08:37

Cesare Prandelli's Italy are heavily favoured to record their first win of the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign at the expense of Malta.

The Euro 2012 finalists got their bid for a place at the Brazil showpiece off to a slow start after being held to a 2-2 draw by Bulgaria on Friday, denied the three points by a Georgi Milanov equaliser in the second half.

Prandelli labelled the display in Sofia as 'insufficient' and is expected to ring the changes for Tuesday's clash at Stadio Alberta Braglia in Modena.

With strikers Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano out injured, the Italian coach opted for two forwards short on international experience against the Bulgarians in Pablo Osvaldo and Sebastian Giovinco.

Osvaldo thrived, scoring both his side's goals, but Juventus target man Giovinco was largely ineffective and could be replaced by Osvaldo's Roma team-mate Mattia Destro or Bologna's Alessandro Diamanti, who featured irregularly during Euro 2012.

Prandelli, who changed to a 4-3-1-2 formation against the Bulgarians after initially seeing his 3-5-2 fail to reap reward, indicated he will opt for a more attacking line-up against Malta.

"A lot of things went wrong (against Bulgaria), so much so that on Tuesday we might repeat the 4-3-1-2 against Malta and bring on Diamanti and Destro," Prandelli said.

Midfield stalwart Daniele De Rossi is facing a month on the sidelines after straining his thigh muscle in the opening qualifier, which could open the door for the likes of Antonio Nocerino and Federico Peluso.

Tense exchanges took place between Italian team-mates against Bulgaria and Prandelli has urged his team to show more unity.

"It's not a good sign when players are arguing on the pitch, it shows you have lost your calm, your serenity and the quality of your game also suffers," the 55-year-old said.

Malta, a lowly 139th in the FIFA world rankings, opened their campaign with a 1-0 home defeat to Armenia.

Coached by Italian Pietro Ghedin, a former assistant coach for Italy's national team, the minnows are widely expected to struggle for points in a Group B which also includes Denmark and the Czech Republic.

The loss to Armenia halted a three-match winning run for Ghedin's men, but Malta have been comfortably defeated in each of their four previous encounters against the Azzurri and will find it difficult to avoid the same fate this time around.

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Info

Italy

L L W W D

2 - 0

Malta

L L W L L
Competition
WC Qualification Europe
Date
11 September 2012
Kick-off
20:45
Half-time
1 - 0
Full-time
2 - 0
Venue
Stadio Alberto Braglia (Modena)
Attendance
18000

Goals

M. Destro 5'
(assist by C. Marchisio) 
1 - 0
F. Peluso 90'+2
(assist by A. Pirlo) 
2 - 0

Lineups

Substitutes

Saturday 23 August

Friday 22 August

23:32
23:26
22:34
22:27
22:22
21:53
20:46
20:46
19:44
18:41
18:27
18:25
18:01
17:56
17:33
17:29
17:27
17:17
17:02
16:37
16:28
16:03
15:25
15:22
15:05
14:09
14:00
13:33
13:31
12:23
12:16
11:57
11:54
11:26
10:50
10:24
09:52
09:31
09:29
07:24
06:18
05:29
04:47
03:50
03:20
02:46
02:35
00:13

Thursday 21 August

23:44
23:38
23:04
22:36
22:27
22:19
21:48
21:40
21:34
20:55
20:27
20:17
20:11
20:10
20:04
19:39
18:49
18:23
18:11
18:08
17:53
17:38
17:35
17:21
17:08
16:57
16:57
16:46
16:41
16:26
16:19
16:09
16:09
15:59
15:48
15:42
15:22
14:38
14:26
14:04
13:34
13:27
13:05
12:57
12:55
12:54
12:20
11:25
10:58
10:48
10:11
10:04
09:45
09:41
08:34
08:18
07:12
07:06
06:33
06:00
05:59
05:58
05:52
05:38
04:33
04:32
04:03
03:38
03:10
00:59

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