MX23RW : Monday, June 14 06:16:43| >> :120:42054:42054:
Mar 28, 2021 at 7.45pm UK at Stadion Slavija

Kostadinov (57'), Vutov (58'), Bozhikov (59')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Belotti (43' pen.), Locatelli (83')
Locatelli (84'), Bernardeschi (89')

How Italy could line up against Bulgaria

How Italy could line up against Bulgaria
© Reuters
Sports Mole takes an in-depth look at how Italy could line up for Sunday's World Cup qualifying clash with Bulgaria.

As Juventus stalwart Leonardo Bonucci marked his 100th Italy cap versus Northern Ireland in Italy's opening qualifier for Qatar 2022 in midweek, the long-serving centre-back was one of only seven players remaining from the failed qualifying campaign for the 2018 finals among Roberto Mancini's original 38-man squad.

Some fresh faces are set to feature on Sunday then, as the Azzurri meet modest opposition in the form of Bulgaria and Mancini must navigate three competitive games in the space of a week. Most of the coach's choices will therefore be based on fatigue-management considerations.

There have also been some further withdrawals from the former Manchester City manager's initial selection - with Bryan Cristante and Moise Kean previously pulling out before the first game due to injury and Chelsea midfielder Jorginho being omitted last week because of a knee problem.

Sassuolo strikers Domenico Berardi and Francesco Caputo joined veteran Giorgio Chiellini in leaving the squad on Friday and all three are ruled out of the next two games.

One of the shining stars of Inter's stellar Serie A campaign, Nicolo Barella, only arrived at the Italians' Coverciano camp just before the Northern Ireland game due to his club side's COVID-19 outbreak late last week, so was replaced in the first XI by Roma midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini at Stadio Ennio Tardini.

Both playmaker Barella and his club colleague Stefano Sensi could add some fresh legs to the midfield and are set for starts in Sofia though, with Pellegrini and Manuel Locatelli most likely to miss out.

Meanwhile, midfield prospect Matteo Pessina and Azzurri new-boy Rafael Toloi (both of Atalanta) may also play their part in the Bulgarian capital, with uncapped pair Gian Marco Ferrari and Matteo Ricci also having an outside shot at being handed a debut in the prestigious blue jersey.

Up front, in Mancini's favoured 4-3-3, direct winger Federico Chiesa is expected to come into a wide attacking role, replacing Lorenzo Insigne - who excelled on Thursday evening but might benefit from a break - or the now-departed Berardi.

Following his clinical strike last time out, Lazio striker Ciro Immobile has been directly involved in seven goals in his last seven starts for Italy - scoring four times and providing three assists.

However, the 2020 European Golden Boot and Serie A Capocannoniere could well be rested, paving the way for Torino front man Andrea Belotti to take the central striker's role on Sunday.

Italy possible starting lineup:
Donnarumma; Spinazzola, Acerbi, Bonucci, Florenzi; Sensi, Verratti, Barella; Chiesa, Belotti, Insigne

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