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Italy should have absolutely no trouble with Denmark in Milan on Tuesday night, but stranger things have happened.
It should have been easy for Italy, beating Armenia last Friday -- or so the fans of azzurri wanted to believe. After all, the side was nearly identical to the one that nearly conquered Euro 2012. Instead, Italy left it for late, grabbing two goals in the last thirty minutes to give them a 3-1 victory and sole dominance of Group B.
Denmark, perhaps surprisingly, has collected just two points, although they've played just two rounds. After a scoreless affair against the Czech Republic, Denmark traveled to Sofia, where they were held to a 1-1 draw by ten-man Bulgaria. Despite Ivan Bandalovski's red card in the 26th minute, the visitors could do no more than equalize, with a header by Nicklas Bendtner.
Some changes should be coming for the azzurri. For some reason, Cesare Prandelli has chosen a four-man backline during the qualifying process, and against Armenia, it only served to highlight the weaknesses of both Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci. With Christian Maggio excused from international duty due to his wife's impending labor, Prandelli could shift back toward a 3-5-2, or he could simply replace Maggio with Ignazio Abate. Despite a strained thigh muscle, Gigi Buffon is anxious to start, although Emiliano Viviano could get the nod in his place. Finally, Mario Balotteli is expected to get at least a few minutes, probably in place of Sebastian Giovinco, who didn't look to be at his best on Friday.
As for Denmark, well, they've very nearly given up before the match has even started. Boss Morten Olsen said that if Andrea Pirlo orchestrates the azzurri side, it will be difficult for the Danes to win. And when is Pirlo not pulling the strings? Denmark has managed draws in their last two matches, but lost the last three prior to that. And sure, it's tough to beat Portugal and near impossible to down Germany, but a 3-1 loss to Slovakia? That says it all, really. The Danes may have talent, but they're unable to find any sort of outlet for it at the moment. Don't expect much to change against Italy.
Match Date/Time: Tuesday, 8:45 p.m. local time, 2:45 p.m. ET
Venue: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza (San Siro), Milan, Italy
TV: RAI Internazionale (U.S. and Canada). Congrats Italy and Denmark -- they're not showing this match in your country.