An optimistic Cesare Prandelli says Friday’s friendly against Russia will be primarily used as a tactical exercise by his Italian side.
Although the Coach will not confirm his starting XI until later this evening, he has revealed that he’ll test out 4-3-1-2 and 4-3-3 systems in the Zurich clash after Tuesday’s Luxembourg tie was called off.
“I’m not worried about the cancellation of the Luxembourg game [after the earthquake] because the squad is working hard and with intensity,” he stated.
“Saying that, we needed two games, and not just one, to take a look at the tactical solutions that we are thinking about.
“We’ll try two systems tomorrow. The first will be with just two strikers and four midfielders. The second will be with a trident attack – with two wide forwards and a small centre-forward.
“The latter will be Antonio Di Natale or Antonio Cassano or Sebastian Giovinco…”
It is in attack where Prandelli is looking for answers after his preferred strike pairing of Cassano and Giuseppe Rossi was made unavailable to him by the Villarreal player’s injury.
The tactician is now set to field a Cassano and Mario Balotelli pairing despite their limited playing time together.
“I’m not worried and I believe they can do well together,” the former Fiorentina boss noted.
“Why did I pick Fabio Borini ahead of Mattia Destro in the squad? Borini is a little more adaptable when it comes to the characteristics required to work as a wide attacker. Mattia is more of a scorer.
“We have to improve as a team. We are where we want to be in terms of circulating the ball, but I'd like to see three or four players in the opposition box.”
Turning to the defence and Italy may have problems at left-back given that Giorgio Chiellini is recovering from injury and Federico Balzaretti is struggling with a few physical issues.
“I have to compliment Chiellini as he turned up four days earlier than expected to start work at Coverciano.
“We also thank Juventus for allowing that to happen. I don’t want to risk him against Russia tomorrow, but he is fit enough to play.
“I’m now just thinking about getting Balzaretti and Chiellini back to full fitness, but Angelo Ogbonna could also be a solution in that position.”
Prandelli was again quizzed on the possibility of using Juventus’ three-man defence of Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci.
“We could try a three-man defence during a game, but only with the three Juventus defenders – up to now I’ve only had two and a half given Chiellini’s injury.
“Our full-backs would know what to do if we ever played with three at the back.”
Prandelli was also asked about the possibility of Balotelli wanting to walk off the pitch should he be subjected to racist abuse.
“Mario is calm and motivated. If he should be targeted by racist chants then we’ll all walk on to the pitch and embrace him – that is how we’ll respond if anything happened.”
Italy possible starting XI v Russia: Buffon; Maggio, Barzagli, Bonucci, Balzaretti (Ogbonna); Pirlo; Marchisio, De Rossi; Montolivo; Balotelli, Cassano.