NEWS
Wednesday June 19 2013
Line-ups: Italy-Japan

Italy make two changes to their starting XI when facing Alberto Zaccheroni’s Japan tonight in the Confederations Cup.

The tie kicks off at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife at 23.00 UK time (22.00 GMT). It follows on from today’s other Group A game, Brazil 2-0 Mexico, which means the Selecao are already qualified for the semi-final.

Cesare Prandelli’s side beat Mexico 2-1 in their tournament opener, but makes two changes to the side that started that match on Sunday.

Christian Maggio and Alberto Aquilani step in for right-back Ignazio Abate and advanced midfielder Claudio Marchisio.

The system remains the same, a 4-3-2-1 with Emanuele Giaccherini and now Fiorentina’s Aquilani supporting lone striker Mario Balotelli.

SuperMario scored in the opening match, but was booked for taking off his shirt to celebrate. If he receives a yellow card against Japan, he will be suspended for the next tie with Brazil.

Japan lost their first game 3-0 to hosts Brazil, but that was an unusually below-par performance from Zaccheroni’s men.

They won the Asian Cup in 2011 and became the first nation to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.

Inter full-back Yuto Nagatomo is the most recognisable figure for Serie A followers, though their top stars are in attack with Manchester United’s Shinji Kagawa, Keisuke Honda of CSKA Moscow and Jubilo Iwata veteran Ryoichi Maeda, who pushes Honda into a deeper role.

These teams have met just twice before. Italy won 8-0 in the 1936 Olympics quarter-final, plus a 1-1 friendly draw in Saitama in November 2002.

Italy: Buffon; Maggio, Barzagli, Chiellini, De Sciglio; De Rossi, Pirlo, Montolivo; Giaccherini, Aquilani; Balotelli

Japan: Kawashima; Uchida, Yoshida, Konno, Nagatomo; Hasebe, Endo; Okazaki, Honda, Kagawa; Maeda

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