International Friendly Preview: Italy v Argentina
By Football News
Argentina will warm up for their next FIFA World Cup qualifier on Wednesday by looking to extend their unbeaten run over Italy.
Paraguay are Argentina's next hurdle as they bid to secure a spot at next year's World Cup finals in Brazil and they will prepare for that qualifier in September with a game in Rome against Italy.
Argentina are unbeaten in their past three clashes with Italy, winning the two most recent encounters.
The last meeting was also at Rome's Stadio Olimpico in a friendly in 2001 and Argentina won 2-1, with Kily Gonzalez and Hernan Crespo scoring the goals for the visitors.
Argentina head coach Alejandro Sabella has picked a strong squad for Wednesday's match with the likes of Lionel Messi, Angel di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain alongside up-and-comer Erik Lamela in attack.
Sabella's team have not lost in six outings but have drawn three of their past four, including a 1-1 stalemate in a World Cup qualifier away to Ecuador that would have seen Argentina wrap up qualification for Brazil 2014 if they had won.
Italy have lost two of their past three games, going down to Brazil and Spain at the FIFA Confederations Cup before defeating Uruguay on penalties to finish third at the World Cup warm-up event.
In one change to Italy's squad from the Confederations Cup, head coach Cesare Prandelli has included Argentina-born striker Pablo Osvaldo.
But, in general, Prandelli has picked a familiar squad full of veterans such as Andrea Pirlo, Gianluigi Buffon, Daniele De Rossi and Riccardo Montolivo.
Italy will use their clash with Argentina as a final test ahead of a busy couple of months of World Cup qualifying.
While Italy sit atop UEFA's qualifying Group B, Prandelli's side have a quartet of big matches coming up, as they are set to play the next four teams in the standings.
Italy will host Bulgaria and Czech Republic in September before a trip to Denmark and a home clash against Armenia in October to complete their qualifying campaign.