HomeSportsPreview: Italy vs. Venezuela - prediction, team news, lineups

Preview: Italy vs. Venezuela – prediction, team news, lineups


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Sports Mole previews Thursday’s friendly clash between Italy and Venezuela, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Kicking off their brief trip to the United States, Italy meet Venezuela on Thursday evening at Fort Lauderdale’s Chase Stadium.

While the Azzurri are preparing to defend their European title this summer, their opponents have one eye on the upcoming Copa America.

Match preview

© Reuters

When last in action four months ago, Italy entered their final Euro 2024 qualifier sitting level on points with Ukraine in Group C, but knowing that they only needed to avoid defeat to secure automatic qualification.

A tense goalless draw in Leverkusen ultimately sealed the Azzurri’s return to Germany, where they will soon defend their continental crown – three years after pipping England to the post at Wembley.

Ahead of taking part in an eighth successive European Championship finals – where Spain, Croatia and Albania await in the group stage – Italy have travelled across the Atlantic to face Venezuela and Ecuador in a pair of friendlies that will allow coach Luciano Spalletti to assess his options for the summer.

After arriving in Miami, Spalletti spoke of taking an experimental approach – both in terms of personnel and tactics – so Lazio captain Ciro Immobile has been left behind, and several younger options will have a chance to impress while Stateside.

Spalletti’s squad includes numerous players still in single figures for senior caps, and in addition to Immobile’s absence, experienced centre-back Francesco Acerbi was withdrawn after becoming embroiled in a racism row with Napoli defender Juan Jesus.

Once they have concluded business in Florida, La Nazionale’s next stop is New Jersey, where Ecuador are their opponents on Sunday; then, a meeting with Vincenzo Montella‘s Turkey awaits in June, when another friendly against Bosnia-Herzegovina will be their final warm-up for the Euros.

Venezuela's Eduard Bello celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on October 13, 2023© Reuters

Though December’s defeat to Colombia ended Venezuela’s five-match unbeaten streak, it was a friendly fixture played outside of a designated FIFA international window, so should not be regarded as a significant setback.

As things stand, at an early stage of the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers, La Vinotinto are faring much better than their campaign to reach Qatar 2022, when they finished last with just 10 points from 18 games.

This time around, qualification is within their grasp after six rounds of action, as Fernando Batista‘s side sit fourth in the standings – two points ahead of South American giants Brazil.

Controversy followed November’s 1-1 draw with Peru in Lima, after which Venezuela’s flight home was delayed, with talk of Peruvian authorities “kidnapping” players by allegedly refusing to allow the aircraft to refuel.

A diplomatic row between the two nations ensued, but Batista quickly refocused on football matters, as the Copa America is approaching: his team must tackle Ecuador, Mexico and Jamaica when they return to the United States this summer.

Including a draw in Brazil towards the end of last year, the Venezuelans have now lost only twice in their last 14 matches – but Italy are sure to provide a tough test at Chase Stadium, ahead of Sunday’s game against Guatemala at the same venue.

Italy form (all competitions):

Venezuela form (all competitions):

Team News

Italy coach Luciano Spalletti on November 17, 2023© Reuters

While captain Gianluigi Donnarumma is Italy’s most experienced squad member this week, with 60 caps to his name, Atalanta BC goalkeeper Marco Carnesecchi and Tottenham Hotspur’s Guglielmo Vicario will be among several players hoping to make their first senior start on Thursday.

Uncapped wing-backs Raoul Bellanova and Andrea Cambiaso have impressed in Serie A, while Udinese striker Lorenzo Lucca offers Luciano Spalletti a fresh option up front.

Hellas Verona midfielder Michael Folorunsho is another new call-up, but familiar faces Ciro Immobile, Gianluca Scamacca, Domenico Berardi and Francesco Acerbi have not travelled to Florida for various reasons.

Roma’s Gianluca Mancini stepped in when the latter was dropped following accusations of racism, but clubmate Bryan Cristante has stayed in Rome to undergo treatment for a longstanding back injury.

Venezuela, meanwhile, are without both Yeferson Soteldo and Girona’s Yangel Herrera, though all-time leading scorer Salomon Rondon is available to lead the line in attack.

The former West Bromwich Albion striker has scored 10 goals in 14 games for Pachuca this season and is joined in the squad by fellow veteran Tomas Rincon – La Vinotinto’s captain should win his 131st cap on Thursday.

Philadelphia Union duo Jose Martinez and Jesus Bueno have both been selected too, and the latter now hopes to make his senior debut.

Italy possible starting lineup:
Donnarumma; Scalvini, Buongiorno, Bastoni; Di Lorenzo, Barella, Jorginho, Udogie; Pellegrini, Chiesa; Raspadori

Venezuela possible starting lineup:
Romo; Gonzalez, Osorio, Angel, Navarro; Savarino, Casseres, Rincon, Murillo; Machis, Rondon

SM words green background

We say: Italy 2-1 Venezuela

Though Venezuela have shown signs of improvement, Italy are also trying to turn over a new leaf under Luciano Spalletti, who is not afraid to take the game to any opponent. The reigning European champions should have too much depth for their South American counterparts to contend with, but it could be a fairly close contest.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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