Friday June 1 2012
Italy go with Balotelli-Cassano

Italy will field a strike pairing of Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano tonight for the first time since August 2010.

The Azzurri will face Russia in a Zurich friendly as Coach Cesare Prandelli will test out the Balotelli-Cassano partnership.

Although Prandelli admitted at the start of his spell in charge that he wanted to field a strike-force with those two men, he’s been unable to do so with any consistency.

In fact, the Manchester City player and the Milan ace have only simultaneously played 59 minutes of international football together – and that was in Prandelli’s first game in charge during the 1-0 loss to the Ivory Coast.

Prandelli revealed on Thursday that he would be testing two systems in tonight’s clash – a 4-3-1-2 and a 4-3-3.

Giorgio Chiellini won’t be risked, but Federico Balzaretti has recovered from injury so he’ll start at left-back.

New Milan signing Riccardo Montolivo will be Italy’s spare man in midfield, while Andrea Pirlo will again be asked to create from deep.

Antonio Di Natale, Sebastian Giovinco and Fabio Borini are expected to be used as second-half substitutes.

Italy probable XI v Russia: Buffon; Maggio, Barzagli, Bonucci, Balzaretti; Pirlo; Marchisio, De Rossi; Montolivo; Balotelli, Cassano.

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