Prandelli keen to boost Italy's world ranking


FLORENCE, Italy (AP) -Italy coach Cesare Prandelli expects to boost his team's world ranking with a win against France despite being again set to give youth a chance in Wednesday's friendly.

Italy rose to fifth place in the FIFA rankings last week, and Prandelli is keen for his side to remain within touching distance of No. 1 Spain.

"The friendly counts for the ranking and it is important because it is against an important opponent," Prandelli said. "Everyone says the standings don't matter, but then everyone looks at them. The young lads that go out onto the pitch will have to show their enthusiasm and talent.

"It won't be a normal match against France; it's never a normal match against them. We know that very well, having faced them many times in important competitions and in finals, too. It's never a friendly match against France."

Italy has lost its past four friendlies.

Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi has been left out of the squad after being sent off in the 3-2 loss to Lazio for punching Stefano Mauri.

De Rossi scored in Italy's past two World Cup qualifying matches but players are expected by Prandelli to adhere to a strict disciplinary code. Prandelli will not call up players who have been sent off for dissent or violent conduct.

"I haven't spoken to him but I'm not worried about him with regards to the World Cup," Prandelli said. "Quite the opposite, this punishment actually helps as certain mistakes won't be repeated at the World Cup.

"Daniele is too much of a fan. When you put too much responsibility on yourself you can lose your head. He has to find a balance."

Roma midfielder Alessandro Florenzi could make his debut for Italy after being called up for the first time. Newcastle defender Davide Santon could make his first international appearance in more than 18 months.

Prandelli has said he will try a new attacking partnership, which could pair Mario Balotelli with young AC Milan striker Stephan El Shaarawy.

It is Italy's attacking threat that concerns France coach Didier Deschamps.

"What we used to call the Italian game belongs to the past," he said. "The European Championship was a very attacking tournament, with offensive football. All the better for football.

"It's an example to follow. Before Italy used to defend well and hit teams on the break. At the Euros, we saw a team whose first thought was to go forward and create problems for its opponent. And they were rewarded for this with the final at the end."

France was eliminated by reigning world and European champion Spain at Euro 2012, but has made a good start to qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, beating Finland and Belarus before drawing 1-1 away to Spain last month thanks to substitute Olivier Giroud's last-gasp header.

Manchester City midfielder Samir Nasri has not been selected in the squad despite having served a three-match ban at Euro 2012 for insulting a journalist in a profanity-laced tirade.

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