Saturday June 16 2012
Italy test Diamanti midfield

Cesare Prandelli tested a 3-4-1-2 system in training today with a diamond midfield including Alessandro Diamanti, but Mario Balotelli picked up an injury.

Italy have to beat the Republic of Ireland on Monday evening and hope Spain-Croatia doesn’t end in a draw.

There were already reports Balotelli was going to be dropped from the starting XI before he limped off during today’s training session with a right knee problem.

The Manchester City striker will undergo tests on Sunday, but is unlikely to be risked from the start in a must-win game.

Antonio Di Natale is expected to take over as partner to Antonio Cassano, though the 3-5-2 system could be shelved.

Prandelli tested out a 3-4-1-2 tactic with Bologna’s Diamanti as the trequartista behind the strikers.

This allows Daniele De Rossi to stay as centre-back, keeping Thiago Motta in midfield.

The team can also be switched to a more classic Prandelli-style 4-3-1-2 that got the Azzurri through qualifying.

Ignazio Abate and Federico Balzaretti are ready to step in for Christian Maggio and Emanuele Giaccherini.

Abate was back in training today with a large bandage on his head, as he needed five stitches on Wednesday following an accidental clash with Giaccherini.

Andrea Barzagli is in full training now after recovering from a calf strain that ruled him out of the first two Group C games.

Antonio Nocerino is another candidate to be introduced and was spotted having an animated discussion with Cassano during today’s session.

The Azzurri will fly to Poznan on Sunday morning to prepare for Monday’s match, kick-off at 19.45 UK time.

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