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Italy v Scotland: Chiellini spots chance to prepare for Ireland challenge

Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini believes Sunday’s friendly with Scotland will serve as good preparation for facing the Republic of Ireland at Euro 2016 next month.

Antonio Conte’s side continue their preparations for the European Championship with the clash – being held in Malta – as the coach looks to finalise his squad ahead of the tournament.

Italy – who are already without midfielders Marco Verratti and Claudio Marchisio through injury – have rebuilt since the 2014 World Cup when they failed to get out of the group stage.

Seven wins in qualifying helped seal top spot in Group H and they now embark on another attempt at glory – having been crowned European champions on one occasion in 1968.

Belgium, Sweden and Ireland await them in France and Chiellini hopes this weekend’s encounter will help give Conte’s squad confidence ahead of the finals.

“They are similar to Ireland and can also be compared to Norway, who we’ve already faced [in qualifying],” he said.

“It must serve as a starting point for the third group game against Ireland, their strikers have good physicality and they look to get a lot of crosses in.

“That game will have to give us a little something. The aim is to come back from Malta with a bit more confidence.”

Scotland should provide the stern test Conte and Chiellini are looking for given they are unbeaten in their last four matches and have not conceded a goal in the previous three.

Gordon Strachan’s side were unable to reach the Euros as Germany, Poland and the Ireland finished above them and their attentions now turn to World Cup 2018 qualification.

After facing Italy, Scotland take on France next Saturday and midfielder James McArthur insists the squad are looking forward to the test, rather than seeing the games as an inconvenience.

“These games are not a pest for anyone,” he told The Daily Record. “It’s an opportunity to show what you can do against two great footballing nations.

“Maybe in other countries they might see it as that, but not in Scotland.

“In European Championship qualifiers or World Cup qualifiers you are going to be facing great teams. So why not test yourself against the best and take confidence from doing your best against them?

“The opportunity is there to go in and show what you are made of.”

Fri 27 May, 2016
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