NEWS
Friday June 7 2013
Line-ups: Czech Rep-Italy

Milan trio Mario Balotelli, Stephan El Shaarawy and Riccardo Montolivo lead the way as Italy face the Czech Republic tonight.

This is a World Cup qualifier which kicks off in Prague at 19.45 UK time (18.45 GMT) despite recent flooding in the city.

The Azzurri line-up is almost entirely made of Juventus and Milan players, as only Roma’s Daniele De Rossi stands out in midfield.

Andrea Barzagli has shaken off an Achilles tendon problem to start, while Giorgio Chiellini moves to left-back.

Montolivo takes on a trequartista role rather than his usual deeper position for Milan, behind Rossoneri strikers Balotelli and El Shaarawy.

A victory here this evening would put the Azzurri six points clear at the top of Group B, though a defeat would put the Czechs in second place, leapfrogging Bulgaria.

Watford striker Matej Vydra, who is owned by Udinese, is not even on the bench due to injury, so Lazio's Libor Kozak starts.

Arsenal’s Tomas Rosicky and Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech are in the starting XI with Jiracek and Plasil in attack.

Italy’s record in the group so far is four wins and a draw, scoring 12 goals and conceding four. Elsewhere this evening, Malta earned a shock 1-0 win away to Armenia in Group B.

This will be the fifth time these nations have met, but the Azzurri won only once, their most recent encounter 2-0 in the 2006 World Cup.

They have lost the only game played in Prague, a 2002 friendly 1-0, losing in Euro ’96 and drawing 2-2 in another friendly in 2004.

Czech Republic: Cech; Gebre Selassie, Sivok, Kadlec, Limbersky; Darida, Hubschman; Jiracek, Rosicky, Plasil; Kozak

Czech Republic bench: Drobny, Vaclik, Suchy, Kalas, Prochazka, Krejcl, Kolar, V Kadlec, Pekhart, Lafata

Italy: Buffon; Abate, Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Marchisio, Pirlo, De Rossi; Montolivo; El Shaarawy, Balotelli

Italy bench: Marchetti, Sirigu, Maggio, Astori, De Sciglio, Candreva, Aquilani, Diamanti, Giaccherini, Giovinco, Gilardino, Cerci

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