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Football | Italy

Marco Verratti © Action Images

Prandelli gives youth a chance



Paris Saint-Germain's Marco Verratti will take the starting place of midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo for Italy's friendly against France on Wednesday, coach Cesare Prandelli said.

With Italy and France in strong positions in their respective World Cup 2014 qualifying groups, both sides are expected to give opportunities to current Italy under-21 stars.

Joining Verratti in midfield is Lazio's Antonio Candreva, who scored a ferocious free-kick for Lazio in their 3-2 win over Roma in the Rome derby on Sunday.

Gianluigi Buffon will also make way for PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu.

Prandelli also confirmed that Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli, 22, will start up front alongside AC Milan's Stephan El Shaarawy, who has just turned 20.

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