By 90Min
October 09, 2018

Both Italy and Ukraine will have a short break from their UEFA Nations League campaigns as they face off in an international friendly on Wednesday night at the Luigi Ferraris Stadium in Genoa.

The Italians have made a slow start to their League A Group 3 campaign having drawn their opening game against Poland before suffering a 1-0 defeat to Portugal in their last match, already seemingly in a slight spot of bother.

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In contrast, their opponents have made a perfect start to their League B Group 1 campaign with Ukraine beating the Czech Republic away from home before then snatching a late 1-0 win over Slovakia.

The clash on Wednesday night will give both teams the opportunity to gain confidence heading into their final Nations League fixtures whilst also giving some fresh faces a chance to impress. Here's everything you need to know ahead of what promises to be a very entertaining game:


Classic Encounter

Italy 3-0 Ukraine (30/06/06)

The two sides met in the quarter finals of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, with a place in the semi finals at stake. It took the Italians just six minutes to go ahead thanks to Gianluca Zambrotta's 25-yard strike which beat Olekandr Shovkovskiy in the Ukraine goal.

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After holding out until half time, Ukraine conceded again on the hour mark courtesy of a close-range Luca Toni header. The big striker then sealed the Italian's passage through to the last four just ten minutes later with another poachers finish from five yards out. 


The Ukrainians were sent packing their bags, however Marcelo Lippi's men went all the way and lifted the trophy after beating France in the final on penalties in Berlin.


Key Battle

Ciro Immobile vs. Yaroslav Rakitskiy

He's been one of the hottest strikers in European football in recent seasons and already has seven international goals to his name in 33 appearances for his country. Last season Immobile scored a remarkable 29 goals in 33 Serie A appearances for Lazio, and is being tipped by many for a big money move very soon.

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Although, many fans were recently left outraged when the striker wasn't included in the shortlist for the 2018 Ballon d'Or award - despite having a better goal scoring record than some of the other attackers who were nominated - and he'll be keen to prove his critics wrong with a strong showing against Ukraine on Wednesday night.

The man likely task with stopping him will be Shakhtar Donetsk central defender Rakitskiy. The 29-year-old has 50 caps for his country and won the Ukrainian Premier League for the seventh time in the last nine years with Shakhtar last season. He'll certainly need to use his wealth of experience should he want to stop Immobile from contributing.


Team News

After initially being called up, Danilo D'Ambrosio, Patrick Cutrone and Alessio Romagnoli have all since been withdrawn through injury, meaning Cristiano Piccini and Lorenzo Tonelli have been drafted in as replacements.


Roberto Mancini also gave call ups to Inter defender Inter duo Roberto Gagliardini and rather surprisingly to Toronto FC forward Sebastian Giovinco - who last played for his country in 2015.

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As for Ukraine, Andriy Shevchenko has called up defending duo Vasyl Kravets and Ihor Plastun for the first time after impressive starts to their seasons with Deportivo Lugo and Gent respectively, with the familiar faces of Andriy Yarmolenko and Yevhen Konoplyanka also included.


Predicted Lineups

Italy (4-3-3):  Donnarumma; Emerson, Bonucci, Chiellini, Criscito; Verratti, Jorginho, Bonaventura; Insigne, Immobile, Bernardeschi.

Ukraine (4-2-3-1):  Pyatov; Karavaev, Rakitskiy, Krivtsov, Matvienko; Stepanenko, Malinovskyi; Yarmolenko, Marlos, Konoplyanka; Yaremchuk.


Prediction

Despite Ukraine being unbeaten in their last seven games dating back to October 2017 coming into Wednesday night's clash, the Italians look to be piecing together a very strong squad - one which we were so used to seeing not so long ago.

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With some experienced faces paired alongside some fresh young talent, the squad looks to have the perfect balance of experience and youthful exuberance, and Italy will use this game to gain confidence heading into two crucial Nations League matches.

Prediction: Italy 2-0 Ukraine

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