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Confederations Cup Game Time Thread: Italy vs. Japan

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Michael Regan

With a win under their belts against El Tri, the Azzurri now look to get oh-so-close to knockout round qualification.

That's the funny thing about these tournaments that only have eight or so teams in it. "Hey, get a couple of wins and you're into the semifinals! BAM!" That's the situation Italy find themselves in, though. With Sunday's 2-1 win over Mexico, common math suggests that a victory against Japan would mean a spot in the semis of the Confederations Cup.

Get another three points today, and Saturday's Group A finale against the hosts of this quick little tournament, Brazil, doesn't exactly have to be won to advance to the knockout round.

And much like Mexico three days prior, Japan struggled against the Brazilians in a 3-0 loss. They looked overmatched, unable to contain the offensive firepower of Neymar and the rest of Brazil's frontline and midfield. Alberto Zaccheroni's side does have talent, but they failed to really put much of anything together and a defense like Italy, they'll be facing a second straight tough task.

What shall it be, Azzurri? Another three points sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

LINEUPS!

Italy (4-3-2-1): Buffon; Maggio, Barzagli, Chiellini, De Sciglio; De Rossi, Pirlo, Montolivo; Aquilani, Giaccherini; Balotelli

Japan (4-2-3-1): Kawashima; Uchida, Yoshida, Konno, Nagatomo; Hasebe, Endo; Okazaki, Honda, Kagawa; Maeda