The Azzurri host Holland in Bari on Thursday night under new management. Former Juventus coach Antonio Conte has been appointed to replace Cesare Prandelli as the Italian head coach, while Louis van Gaal has been succeeded by Guus Hiddink. Without Mario Balotelli and Arjen Robben both coaches could experiment in their first game. Netherlands have a good record against the Italians with the nations meeting 18 times in the past and the Dutch triumphing on nine occasions, while Italy have only won three times. The last two meetings have ended in draws.
As for the Italian setup, Conte decide to move Mario Balotelli out of his first squad, while Giorgio Chiellini, Gabriel Paletta and Daniel Osvaldo have all been forced out the squad with injuries. He said for this match:
"We must experience this with enthusiasm and joy, bringing Italy back to where they deserve, because after Brazil we are the most important football nation in the world. My team must be humble, proud and gritty. We have to win back the affection of the people. In Bari they have already sold 34,000 tickets and it fills me with pride to see that response. This is a challenge with myself and I am convinced that I can help the lads understand concepts that it's easier to transmit when you can work with players every day."
Hiddink will return to a 4-3-3 formation against Italy, after Van Gaal shunted the usual Dutch way of playing in Brazil for a more conservative 5-3-2. They do so without key man Arjen Robben, who pulled out through injury, while Klaas jan Huntelaar, Rafael van der Vaart, Ron Vlaar, and Jordy Clasie are also unavailable.
Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk has been called into the squad for the first time and could make his debut, while Ibrahim Afelley is back in the national set up after finally returning to full fitness. Guss Hiddink has called up Celtic’s Virgil van Dijk and PSG’s Gregory van der Wiel as replacements.
Possible starting lineups:
This will be a very thought match, but we expect that Azzuri still celebrate after the end of 90 minutes