Argentina will warm up for its next 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier by looking to extend its unbeaten run over Italy on Thursday.
Paraguay is Argentina’s next hurdle as it bids to secure a spot at next year’s finals in Brazil and it will prepare for that qualifier in September with a game in Rome against the Italians.
Argentina is unbeaten in the past three clashes with Italy, winning the two most recent encounters.
The last meeting was also at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico in a friendly in 2001 and Argentina won 2-1, with Kily Gonzalez and Hernan Crespo scoring the goals for the visitor.
Argentina head coach Alejandro Sabella has picked a strong squad for the midweek match with the likes of Lionel Messi, Angel di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain alongside up-and-comer Erik Lamela in attack.
Sabella’s team has not lost in six outings but has drawn three of the past four, including a 1-1 stalemate in a World Cup qualifier away to Ecuador that would have seen Argentina wrap up qualification for Brazil 2014 if it had won.
Italy has lost two of its past three games, going down to Brazil and Spain at the FIFA Confederations Cup before defeating Uruguay on penalties to finish third at the World Cup warm-up event.
In one change to Italy’s squad from the Confederations Cup, head coach Cesare Prandelli has included Argentina-born striker Pablo Osvaldo.
But, in general, Prandelli has picked a familiar squad full of veterans such as Andrea Pirlo, Gianluigi Buffon, Daniele De Rossi and Riccardo Montolivo.
Italy will use the clash with Argentina as a final test ahead of a busy couple of months of World Cup qualifying.
While Italy sits atop UEFA’s qualifying Group B, Prandelli’s side has a quartet of big matches coming up, as it is set to play the next four teams in the standings.
Italy will host Bulgaria and Czech Republic in September before a trip to Denmark and a home clash against Armenia in October to complete the qualifying campaign.