No surprise in Italy squad for crucial qualifier in Spain
MILAN (AP) — There were no surprises in the 25-man Italy squad announced on Saturday for World Cup qualifiers against Spain and Israel.
Goalkeeper Mattia Perin returns to the squad for the first time in nearly a year, after injuring his knee in January.
The Genoa shotstopper will likely be behind Italy and Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon and AC Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma in the pecking order.
The high-profile match against Spain in Madrid on Sept. 2 will help decide the teams’ qualifying fate for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The teams are tied for the Group G lead after six matches, with Spain top on goal difference. Only the group winner automatically qualifies. The runner-up will have to go through a playoff.
Spain and Italy drew 1-1 when they met in their qualifier in Turin last year.
Italy has not lost in its previous 56 qualifying matches.
The Azzurri host Israel in Reggio Emilia on Sept. 5.
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan), Mattia Perin (Genoa)
Defenders: Davide Astori (Fiorentina), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (AC Milan), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Andrea Conti (AC Milan), Danilo D’Ambrosio (Inter Milan), Matteo Darmian (Manchester United), Daniele Rugani (Juventus), Leonardo Spinazzola (Atalanta)
Midfielders: Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Riccardo Montolivo (AC Milan), Marco Parolo (Lazio), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain)
Forwards: Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus), Antonio Candreva (Inter Milan), Stephan El Shaarawy (Roma), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Andrea Belotti (Torino), Eder Citadin Martins (Inter Milan), Manolo Gabbiadini (Southampton), Ciro Immobile (Lazio)