Saturday March 23 2019
Italy v Finland: Probable line-ups

Italy are set to give Moise Kean and Cristiano Piccini their first senior Italy starts, while Finland miss two key players in tonight’s Euro 2020 qualifier.

It kicks off in Udine at 19.45 GMT and is the opening game in Group J, which also includes Liechtenstein, Bosnia and Armenia.

Roberto Mancini couldn’t count on injured Lorenzo Insigne, then Federico Chiesa and Alessandro Florenzi also pulled out with muscular problems.

It’s a serious blow, because Chiesa was the only player to have featured in all nine of Mancini’s Italy games.

Although Stephan El Shaarawy of Roma and Inter’s Matteo Politano are available, it seems as if the Coach is going for 19-year-old Juventus talent Kean.

This’ll be his first start for the Azzurri at senior level, his second cap after a substitute appearance against the USA in November 2018.

Ciro Immobile has won the battle for the centre-forward spot, but don’t rule out current Serie A Capocannoniere Fabio Quagliarella coming off the bench.

With Florenzi unavailable, the right-back role should go to Valencia’s Piccini and it too will be his first start for the Nazionale.

He had two brief substitute appearances against Ukraine and Poland back in October 2018.

Finland have some key players missing too, as left-back Jere Uronen is out with an ankle injury, so Juha Pirinen of Tromso is expected to step in.

Striker Jasse Tuominen also misses out, so 20-year-old Lassi Lappalainen should get the nod alongside Norwich City hitman Teemu Pukki.

He is certainly the one to watch, because Pukki scored all of Finland’s first three Nations League goals and found the net five times in his last seven caps.

However, he failed to score in each of the last three.

Captain Tim Sparv will be accompanied in midfield by either Rasmus Schuller or Glen Kamara in a very Scandinavian 4-4-2.

Probable line-ups

Italy (4-3-3): G Donnarumma; Piccini, Bonucci, Chiellini, Biraghi; Verratti, Jorginho, Barella; Bernardeschi, Immobile, Kean

Finland (4-4-2): Hradecky; Granlund, Toivio, Arajuuri, Pirinen; Lod, Schuller, Sparv, Soiri; Pukki, Lappalainen

Ref: Grinfeld (ISR)

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