International friendly preview: Italy v Brazil
By Football News
Italy head coach Cesare Prandelli will need to find the right combination up front if they are to break a winning drought against Brazil.
Prandelli's team will take on Brazil in a friendly in Geneva, Switzerland on Thursday with Italy hoping to knock off the South American nation for the first time in 30 years.
Italy famously defeated Brazil 3-2 in the second round of the 1982 World Cup in Spain, eliminating the South Americans in what is considered one of the greatest games in the history of football, but have failed to taste success against the Brazilians since.
The Italians may not get a better opportunity for a long time as Brazil continue to rebuild their team ahead of hosting the 2014 World Cup, however, Prandelli will need to have his forward setup ready to go at Stade de Geneve.
Since last year's European Championships in Poland and Ukraine, Prandelli has tried seven different players in attacking positions in as many games, alternating between two or three up front.
The 55-year-old head coach is likely to select Mario Balotelli up front as the 22-year-old striker has started Italy's past three games and is in fine form with seven goals in six games since moving to AC Milan from Manchester City.
Prandelli has also selected Balotelli's club team-mate Stephan El Shaarawy, Alberto Gilardino (Bologna), Sebastian Giovinco (Juventus) and Pablo Osvaldo (Roma) as forwards in his 27-man squad to face Brazil and then Malta in a World Cup qualifier on Tuesday, while Lazio midfielder Antonio Candreva could be used out wide in a front three.
Italy's confidence should be high heading into Thursday's game in Geneva as Brazil have won just one of five games against top-10 nations in the past year and that victory (a 2-1 triumph over Argentina) came at home.
Brazil's new head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has made a raft of changes to his squad after losing his first game in charge to England 2-1 in February.
Kaka of Real Madrid leads the additions with his club team-mate Marcelo, AC Milan's Thiago Silva and Luiz Gustavo of Bayern Munich also selected.
Ronaldinho (Atletico Mineiro) and Luis Fabiano (Sao Paulo) are the high-profile omissions.
For Italy, Prandelli has brought uncapped Torino midfielder Alessio Cerci into his squad, while Juventus trio Claudio Marchisio, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini all return having missed their nation's only international match this year; a 1-1 friendly draw with the Netherlands.