Italy can move a step closer to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil with victory over Bulgaria in Palermo on Friday.
Cesare Prandelli's are four points clear of Friday's second-placed opponents in Group B, with the pair unbeaten so far in their campaign.
Wins against Bulgaria on Friday and the Czech Republic on Tuesday would put them on the brink of a place in Brazil where they can make amends for their poor showing in South Africa three years ago where they failed to win a match and were eliminated at the group stage.
Prandelli, who is the subject of reports in Italy that suggest he will leave his post after the World Cup next year, will be without the key trio of Mario Balotelli, Pablo Daniel Osvaldo and Riccardo Montolivo due to suspension.
However, the 56-year-old is more concerned that Bulgaria could be in better shape than his side, with the domestic league already seven games in, compared to Serie A where only two game weeks have been completed.
"I am worried above all, about the physical conditions," he said on Monday.
"Bulgaria is in good shape, they can give us some problems. We have to contrast Bulgaria with lots of quality in the middle of the field and with lots of running along the touches.
"Bulgaria is in good physical condition, it will be a difficult match and historically we have always had problems in September. The message is thinking about winning these two matches before talking about the World Cup."
Italy stalwart Gianluigi Buffon could equal the all-time appearance record of 136 caps for his country against Bulgaria at the Stadio Renzo Barbera.
Buffon was part of the side that won the World Cup on penalties in 2006 and he believes representing his country means as much now as it did when he made his debut in 1997.
"There is a sense of honour when you represent your country," he explained.
"You understand that with time, with maturity. Every appearance with the national side is not just a game, but something more.
"I personally would not turn down a call up. It would be like spitting in the face of good fortune, something that so many people want but only a few have the chance to experience."
In contrast, Lyuboslav Penev has called up uncapped goalkeeper Georgi Kitanov into his 21-man squad.
Penev has seen his side's campaign falter somewhat in recent matches, drawing four of their six qualifiers.
However, he will take heart from the 6-0 win over Malta in March as well as the 2-2 draw with Italy in the reverse fixture.
His side also remain in pole position to secure a play-off place, sitting a point ahead of the Czech Republic in third.
|16||D. De Rossi|
|Coach: C. Prandelli|
for L. Antonelli 63'
for L. Insigne 64'
for I. Abate 80'
|Conte wants fairytale finish for Terry|
|Iniesta: Barcelona haven´t lost faith in Luis Enrique|
|Mourinho knew Ibrahimovic would be ´massive´ for United|
|Ter Stegen doesn´t understand Barcelona fans whistling|
|´He is doing a fantastic job´ – Bartomeu backs Luis Enrique|
|Guardiola slams ´unacceptable´ Wenger treatment|
|Spalletti: Roma goal machine Dzeko now believes he´s world class|
|Emery refuses to blame referee after PSG are held|
|Montella dedicates AC Milan win to Berlusconi|
|The players don´t need whistles – Luis Enrique hits out at fans|
|Brazilian game called off due to TV dispute|
|Chelsea are already Premier League champions, says United boss Mourinho|
|Barcelona 2 Leganes 1: Late Messi penalty spares Ter Stegen´s blushes|
|Paris Saint-Germain 0 Toulouse 0: Champions spill valuable points|
|AC Milan 2 Fiorentina 1: Deulofeu strike keeps European hopes alive|
|Attitude got Man United through - Mourinho|
|Roma 4 Torino 1: Dzeko strikes again|
|Lincoln face Sutton or Arsenal in FA Cup quarter-finals, Chelsea host Man United|
|Neuer slams Jarstein after brawl|
|Blackburn Rovers 1 Manchester United 2: Substitutes Pogba and Ibrahimovic combine for late winner|
|Inter insist Perisic going nowhere, rule out move for Verratti|
|Borussia Monchengladbach 1 RB Leipzig 2: Forsberg and Werner reignite title bid|
|Training-ground meetings paid dividends - Pochettino|
|I´m trying to find a team - Berbatov open to offers|
|Inspired by Zeman´s return, Pescara hammer Genoa 5-0|
|Gabigol wants to make history after Inter breakthrough|
|Chievo 1 Napoli 3: Sarri´s men bounce back from Champions League disappoitment|
|Alfonso Perez calls for Pique to quit international football over political beliefs|
|Benatia refuses to question Allegri´s decisions|
|Fulham 0 Tottenham 3: Kane hat-trick fires Spurs into quarter-finals|
|Oblak return boosts Atletico ahead of Leverkusen trip|
|Gabigol and Inter ready to feast on success after late winner|
|Bologna 0 Inter 1: Gabigol gets belated lift-off in Serie A|
|Still no Mascherano or Arda for Barcelona|
|Bielsa appointed Lille boss from next season|
|Janssen determined to make the grade at Tottenham|
|Stones missing Kompany influence at Manchester City - Ferdinand|
|Central Coast Mariners 0 Melbourne Victory 3: Muscat´s men cruise to win|
|David Villa sent off after video replay|
|Favre not blaming Balotelli for latest red card|
|´It is my future at stake´ – Isco could leave Real Madrid|
|Smalling desperate for Ibrahimovic stay|
|´He will be here for sure´ - Mourinho rules out Shaw exit|
|Wenger not ready for retirement, wants Arsenal stay|
|Pogba will soon look cheap, claims Manchester United boss Mourinho|
|Casilla defends under-fire Navas|
|Isco ´happy and committed´ at Real Madrid – Zidane|
|Middle finger gesture was because I was spat at - Ancelotti|
|Leicester must learn from Millwall´s ´gladiators´ – Ranieri|
|Sevilla 2 Eibar 0: Sampaoli´s side move up to second|
|Lorient 0 Nice 1: Balotelli sent off as visitors go second|
|Too early to talk about Chelsea double – Conte|
|Conte delighted with Chelsea´s fringe players|
|Foreign players don´t expect cup upsets – Terry|
|Bale eyes top form and titles after scoring on Real Madrid comeback|
|Watzke received death threats after Leipzig match|
|Wolves 0 Chelsea 2: Pedro and Costa send Conte´s men through|
|Zidane reveals what he whispered to Bale before comeback goal|
|Dardai hits out at ´Bayern bonus´ after late equaliser|
|Ancelotti adamant Bayern deserved controversial equaliser|
|Ronaldo was not getting anxious, insists Zidane|
|Kompany injury not serious, says Manchester City boss Guardiola|
|Kompany injury not serious, says Manchester City boss Guardiola|
|Ranieri: 10-man Millwall were better than us|
|Piszczek represents everything Borussia Dortmund stand for - Tuchel|
|Championship Review: Brighton back top, Wednesday capitalise on Norwich slip|
|´Vamosss!!!´ - Bale ecstatic after scoring on Real Madrid return|
|Favourites tag weighed heavily on Burnley in Lincoln loss, says Dyche|
|Simeone delighted with Gameiro´s ruthless cameo|
|Millwall 1 Leicester City 0: Cummings wins it for 10-man Lions|
|Middlesbrough 3 Oxford United 2: Stuani rescues Boro after minute of mayhem|
|Real Madrid 2 Espanyol 0: Bale scores on comeback as hosts extend lead|
|Huddersfield Town 0 Manchester City 0: No pep from Guardiola´s men in cup stalemate|
|Hertha Berlin 1 Bayern Munich 1: Lewandowski rescues champions with last kick|
|Barton denies trying to force Rhead red and accuses Lincoln of play-acting|
|Borussia Dortmund 3 Wolfsburg 0: Piszczek stars with Yellow Wall absent|
|Cowley brothers marvel at Lincoln´s FA Cup heroics|
|Violence in the stands mars Tigres victory|
|Raggett ´lost for words´ after sending Lincoln into FA Cup quarter-finals|
|Gameiro dedicates hat-trick to grandmother|
|Burnley 0 Lincoln City 1: Raggett puts non-league heroes in FA Cup dreamland|
|Gameiro hits fastest LaLiga hat-trick in 22 years|
|Big-money signing Krychowiak to play with PSG reserves|
|Sporting Gijon 1 Atletico Madrid 4: Stunning Gameiro hat-trick snatches victory|
|A-League Review: Derby defeat for Sydney, Melbourne City cruise to victory|
|Barcelona results ´irrelevant´ to Luis Enrique´s future|
|Montella backs Donnarumma for Ballon d´Or|
|Bournemouth congratulate Arter on birth of daughter|
|Loftus-Cheek confident his Chelsea chance will come|
|Rashford still part of Mourinho´s plans - Brown|
|Klopp confirms Liverpool transfer plans are already underway|
|No chance of Jesus joining Inter, says agent|
|Dani Alves: If anyone can come back, it´s the Barcelona machines|
|Purslow stepping down from Chelsea role|
|Redknapp: Tottenham will win Premier League within four years|
|Buffon one of the greatest of all time - Casillas|
|Winning over happiness for Chelsea´s Conte|
|Manchester City can still win Premier League - Gundogan|
|Ferdinand backs Keane to re-sign with United like Pogba|
|Pochettino: Janssen must do more at Tottenham|
|Marotta: Juve signing Verratti unrealistic|
|Guardiola: I will never return to Barcelona|
|Allegri jokes ´how is my English?´ as Arsenal rumours intensify|
|We did not play well – Juventus hero Dybala fires Porto warning|