Italy and Antonio Conte are likely to field a second choice Italy lineup against Republic of Ireland in Lille on Wednesday, in order to rest key players ahead of their Pre-Quarter Final clash against Spain. The Irish would be desperate to get the better of the Italians, to have any chance of progressing.
Italy’s back to back wins against Belgium and Sweden in their first two fixtures in Group E has ensured top spot for them since they are ahead on head to head against second placed Belgium who will simultaneously play Sweden today. Victory for the Irish would ensure their progress as the third qualifying team in the Round of 16. However if Sweden also win, the Irish have a chance of finishing second in their group.
Italy: Team News and Injuries
Over the years, the two teams have been involved in some historic clashes especially in the world cups of 90 and 94. But wednesday’s match is a very low priority for Conte’s men as they have secured qualification and will meet Spain in the next round.
Veteran captain Gianluigi Buffon is all set to miss the game against Ireland through a fever since Saturday. PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu is all set to start in goal. Sirigu having supplanted as first choice keeper in the French capital will be a little rusty as he’s short of match practice.
Lazio winger Antonio Candreva who has Chelsea and Inter on high alert, had sustained a right abductor injury against Sweden and will also be on the substitutes’ bench. It is doubtful if he will even come on as a substitute as Conte will be reluctant to risk his key players in attack.
“I will make changes but I don’t know how many,” Conte said in Tuesday’s news conference. “This is a game where those that have played less can take part in. In any case, I don’t expect our approach to change. There are no starters or reserves in this team, only 23 players and a coaching staff that win and lose together” (via SkySports).
Moreover, Italy currently have six players, a single yellow card booking, away from a suspension in the next match which is the crucial tie against Spain – centre half pair Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini are both on a yellow each while Daniele De Rossi, Eder and Thiago Motta are also a booking away from missing the Spain clash. Conte is expected to replace almost half his starting line-up.
Possible Players to Start
Conte will perhaps hand a start to Simone Zaza who provided the assist in the Sweden match that led to the Eder goal. Zaza should be expected to start alongside Pelle or Insigne in attack. West Ham and former Juventus centre back Ogbonna will perhaps also feature in the game against Ireland.
El Sharaawy will take Candreva’s place in the wing. Sturaro and Florenzi are also expected to start with Manchester United defender Matteo Darmian in the centre back role alongside Ogbonna and the ever reliable Andrea Barzagli at the heart of defence.
News from the Irish Camp
Ireland’s 32 year old sriker Jonathan Walters is unlikely to feature after missed out on the defeat to Belgians due to a an Achilles injury. While Walters is unlikely to regain fitness Jeff Hendrick, James McCarthy and Glenn Whelan are one booking away from a ban, should Ireland progress to the next round.
Martin O’Neill is likely to field Murphy and Long as strikers, supported by Hoolahan in the advanced midfield position, with Hendrick, McClean and Whelan completing the midfield diamond. Coleman will start at right back alongside Brady, Duffy and O’Shea.