NEWS
Tuesday September 10 2013
Line-ups: Italy-Czech Republic

Mario Balotelli and Riccardo Montolivo are back and there’s a three-man defence as Gigi Buffon sets a record against the Czech Republic.

The World Cup qualifier kicks off at the Juventus Stadium in Turin at 19.45 UK time (18.45 GMT) and a victory would mathematically book Italy’s ticket for the 2014 tournament in Brazil.

Buffon earns his 136th cap, matching the all-time record set by Fabio Cannavaro, and does so in his ‘home’ arena. The local Juventus fans have reportedly prepared a special choreography to mark the occasion tonight.

Balotelli and Montolivo step into the starting XI, having been suspended for Friday’s 1-0 win over Bulgaria.

However, Southampton striker Dani Osvaldo – who was also banned – is on the bench in favour of supporting duo Antonio Candreva and Emanuele Giaccherini.

Ignazio Abate and Luca Antonelli are ruled out with injury, so Cesare Prandelli has switched his tactics to a three-man defence with Roma’s Daniele De Rossi in the centre. Fiorentina captain Manuel Pasqual steps straight in for his first cap since November 2006, although he was only called up on Saturday.

Among the familiar names in the Czech side are ex-Lazio striker Libor Kozak, Arsenal’s Tomas Rosicky and Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech.

Their chances of qualifying for the World Cup suffered a massive blow on Friday with a shock 2-1 home defeat to Armenia.

Nonetheless, the Czechs are in joint third place on nine points with Armenia and Denmark, one behind Bulgaria on 10.

Italy: Buffon; Bonucci, De Rossi, Chiellini; Maggio, Montolivo, Pirlo, Pasqual; Candreva, Giaccherini; Balotelli

Italy bench: Marchetti, Sirigu, Astori, Ogbonna, Florenzi, Thiago Motta, Verratti, Diamanti, Gilardino, El Shaarawy, Osvaldo, Insigne

Czech Republic: Cech; Gebre Selassie, Sivok, Suchy, Limbersky; Prochazka; Plasil, Darida, Rosicky; Jiracek, Kozak

Czech bench: Vaclik, Drobny, Kadlec, Vanek, Kusnir, Husbauer, Kolar, Rabusic, V Kadlec, Lafata

Ref: Eriksson (SWE)

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