Soccer: Balotelli, El Shaarawy to start against Malta

Italy coach Prandelli concerned about weather on Med island

Soccer: Balotelli, El Shaarawy to start against Malta

Florence, March 25 - Coach Cesare Prandelli said Monday that AC Milan forwards Mario Balotelli and Stephan El Shaarawy will partner each other in attack in Italy's World Cup qualifier in Malta on Tuesday. Balotelli is in excellent form and scored with a spectacular strike from outside the box in the Azzurri's 2-2 draw with Brazil in a friendly on Thursday. Prandelli often reveals his starting lineup the day before a match but he opted not to this time as he has not yet decided what formation he will use. One of his concerns before the match is the bad weather that has hit the Mediterranean island. "At the moment there is a lot of wind on Malta," said Prandelli, whose side are due to fly out later on Monday. "If the conditions stay as they are, there's a risk it won't be possible to land". Italy lead European World Cup qualifying group B with 10 points from four games, one point more than second-placed Bulgaria, who have played five games and thrashed Malta 6-0 in Sofia on Friday. Prandelli reiterated that he is not expecting an easy game on Tuesday after raising eyebrows by saying minnows Malta are better organised than Brazil in defence. "When I said that Malta are more organised than Brazil, I didn't want to offend Brazil or take anyone for a fool," the coach said. "It's simply that they are well-organised and tight-knit at the back. "It may turn out to be an easy match if we make it easy. Right now, what counts are the points. "A 1-0 win may be good enough, it depends on how you achieve it".

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