7 June, 2013 - 12:33

World Cup qualifiers preview (Europe): Czech Republic vs Italy

World Cup qualifiers preview (Europe): Czech Republic vs Italy

Czech Republic desperately need a victory over the Group B leaders Italy in order to leapfrog Bulgaria into the second place and retain chances of reaching World Cup play-offs as runners-up.

Italy, who are currently topping the table three points ahead of the second-placed Bulgaria with a game in hand, will try to outplay Michal Bilek’s side to increase the gap at the top.

Czechs are sitting in the third place, five points behind the leaders and two points behind Bulgaria. Should they beat the Italians they will move second place to within two points of Squadra Azzurra.

Bilek has not serious injury concerns ahead of the crucial qualifier and is likely to stick to a side that secured a 3-0 victory over Armenia in March. Watford’s striker Matej Vydra has netted a brace in that game and will start up front again. Veteran playmaker Tomas Rosicky is expected to pull the strings in the middle, while Petr Cech is edging Poborsky’s record of 118 caps with his 101st cap.

Meanwhile Prandelli will include El Shaarawy and Barzagli into the starting lineup again, omitting the pair from his experimental first XI against minnows San Marino. The only notable injury concern is Genoa’s defender Luca Antonelli, who suffered an ankle injury.

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Author: Basil Naumov

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