Italy are this close to clinching a spot in the World Cup. The Italians need only to win or draw against the Czech Republic alongside a Bulgaria loss to earn an automatic bid to Brazil next summer.
Of course, the Czechs aren't going to make that easy, currently in third place in Group B with nine points, one point behind Bulgaria. While they won't catch Italy atop the group more than likely, earning one of the playoffs afforded to six second-place teams is within reach.
In other words, both of these countries will have plenty to play for on Tuesday. Let's break down this key World Cup qualifier.
When: Tuesday, September 10 at 2:45 p.m. ET
Where: Juventus Stadium, Turin, Italy
Watch: Univision Deportes; RAI Internazionale
Italy will get a major boost in this game, as Mario Balotelli, Pablo Osvaldo and Riccardo Montolivo will all be available for manager Cesare Prandelli. That should add some bite to an attack that regularly threatened in Saturday's 1-0 win over Bulgaria but could only put one goal home.
The team may be a bit vulnerable defensively, however, as midfielder Daniele De Rossi could be asked to fill in for Andrea Barzagli in an three-man defensive line.
For the Czech Republic, trying to pick up points in Italy is a daunting task. As usual, the Czechs will go as far as No. 10 and Arsenal man Tomas Rosicky can take them. The creative midfielder will need help, of course, but he's without question this team's talisman.
Keeper and Chelsea man Petr Cech will look to stonewall Italy as well, though against a talented Azzurri side that is much easier said than done.
The two teams played to a scoreless draw the last time they met.
It's hard to see Italy losing a game they host with an automatic World Cup bid on the line. You have to think the Italians would love to clinch with two games in the bag, allowing them to perhaps get a few younger players some experience.
The Czech Republic have everything to play for, but they'll simply be overmatched in this one. Italy wins, 1-0.
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