LONDON (Sporting Alert) — Andrea Pirlo starts on the bench for Italy, while Mario Balotelli leads the attack in this evenings friendly international clash with Nigeria at Craven Cottage.
Pirlo is amongst the subs, but is expected to feature later on during the game, with veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, Domenico Criscito, Ignazio Abate and Daniel Osvaldo starting on the bench as well.
Giorgio Chiellini and Thiago Motta, as well as Riccardo Montolivo and Emanuele Giaccherini are in the starting XI, however, with AC Milan striker and former Manchester City front-man Balotelli leading the forward line.
Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel and Liverpool forward Victor Moses, who himself is on loan from Chelsea are both starters for Nigeria, who recently qualified for their fifth Fifa World Cup finals from the African region.
Emmanuel Emenike, however, starts on the bench, but defender Godfrey Oboabona, who picked up an injury in the 2-0 win over Ethiopia at the weekend, starts in the back.
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Italy v Nigeria
Italy: Sirigu, Maggio, Pasqual, Ranocchia, Chiellini, Thiago Motta, Ogbonna, Candreva, Montolivo, Giaccherini, Balotelli
Subs: Buffon, Criscito, Abate, Osvaldo, Gilardino, Florenzi, Insigne, Bonucci, Pirlo, Diamanti, Parolo, Cerci, Poli, Marchetti
Nigeria: Ejide, Oboabona, Egwueke, Benjamin, Kwambe, Mikel, Moses, Oduamadi, Onazi, Dike, Ameobi
Subs: Enyeama, Elderson, Ogu, Ambrose, Musa, Ideye, Emenike, Gabriel, Mba, Omeruo
Referee: M Akinson (Leeds)