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Preview: Italy v Republic of Ireland

Italy are through, but Antonio Conte says their final Group E game is not meaningless; Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill, whose side must win, can only agree.

Martin O'Neill speaks ahead of a must-win game for Ireland
Martin O'Neill speaks ahead of a must-win game for Ireland ©Getty Images
  • Italy expected to leave out Buffon, Chiellini and Bonucci
  • Italy defeated Ireland 2-0 in the group stage at UEFA EURO 2012
  • Azzurri's competitive record against their Group E rivals is W4 D2 L1
  • Their sole defeat was a 1-0 loss at the 1994 World Cup
  • Most recently, Ireland drew 0-0 with Italy in a 2014 friendly in London

Possible line-ups
Italy: Sirigu; De Sciglio, Barzagli, Ogbonna, Darmian; Bernardeschi, Thiago Motta, Sturaro, El Shaarawy; Zaza, Immobile.
Doubtful: Candreva (thigh)
Misses next match if booked: Bonucci, Buffon, Chiellini, De Rossi, Éder, Thiago Motta

Republic of Ireland: Randolph; Coleman, O'Shea, Duffy, Brady; Hendrick, Whelan, Quinn, Hoolahan; Murphy, Long.
Out: none
Doubtful: Walters (achilles)
Misses next match if booked: Hendrick, McCarthy, Whelan

Coach quotes
Antonio Conte, Italy
We're starting to pop the corks already! No, you've got to be humble. It's not a soft game – Ireland are tough opponents. We're already through, but that doesn't mean anything. What I ask of my lads is to play the game to win it, because winning helps you win more.

After the Sweden game and seeing the lads in training, I changed my mind over a few things and so there will be changes. It's not a meaningless game – it's useful for us and for me. There is no such thing as a first-choice team and reserves. We have 23 players who win and lose together, including all the staff.

Keane still gets Ireland buzz

Martin O'Neill, Republic of Ireland
Six months ago, if you thought you had to win your last game to qualify, and there's a fairly decent chance of that ... I think you would have taken it. We have to concentrate on what we're going to do, and make sure we're in front when the final whistle blows.

Italy will just be looking after themselves. They've won the group after two games. Now, whatever comes or goes about this result, it doesn't matter to them. It's a great position to be in, because what they can rest players who have played two games in four days or so. They can also take out those players who have yellow cards.

But these are top-quality players they're going to bring in, who will add a fresh dynamic to their team, who will be desperate to prove to their manager that they should be in the starting line-up. I would probably prefer if it was a team playing their third game in eight, nine or ten days.

UEFA.com team reporters
Ben Gladwell, Italy
Although Italy have already qualified as group winners, and while Conte is sure to rotate his team, that will take little away from the Squadra Azzurra's desire to end the group stage with nine points. Both Simone Zaza and Daniele De Rossi affirmed that much on Monday, the latter suggesting that any XI Italy field should be of similar quality. They will be keen to maintain momentum going into the last 16 and the players coming into the team will be keen to make a mark, so expect Italy to be as hungry and as dangerous as in their first two fixtures.

Paul Bryan, Republic of Ireland (@UEFAcomPaulB)
Ireland's last win at a major tournament came a little over 14 years ago. A place in the round of 16 at these finals can only be secured if the Boys in Green bridge that gap with victory against Italy. Should the Irish fail to achieve their goal in Lille, the excuses appear ready made: fatigue, a lack of club playing time hampering several players and low morale following the Belgium loss. Reproducing the resilience and fighting spirit on show when recovering to qualify for UEFA EURO 2016 will be a minimum requirement for Ireland; a rub of the green may be needed too.

Form guide (all competitions, most recent first)
Republic of Ireland

Did you know?
This is Italy's ninth EURO final tournament and their sixth in a row since missing out on the 1992 edition in Sweden. Only twice have they failed to advance through the group stage – in 1996 and 2004. Find out more in our extensive match background.

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