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WORLD CUP QUALIFYING - UEFA

Letna Stadium

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Czech Republic v Italy: Preview

Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is putting any thoughts of a successful Confederations Cup campaign to one side as the Azzurri tackle the Czech Republic in a World Cup qualifier.

Less than 48 hours after returning from Prague, Italy will fly to Rio de Janeiro for an eight-nation dress rehearsal for next year's World Cup finals in Brazil.

Games against the hosts, Mexico and Japan will provide Italy with a taste of what awaits them if they can finish top of the pile in World Cup qualifying Group B, where they have a game in hand and a three-point advantage over second-placed Bulgaria.

Victory at the Generali Arena would open a six-point cushion at the top to leave the Czech Republic eight points shy of first place but a home win would see Michal Bilek's men take second place from Bulgaria.

And those ramifications are all that currently occupy Juventus keeper Buffon and his team-mates.

``Our only goal is to increase the gap on second place,'' the 35-year-old told La Repubblica.

``We are continuing on the road towards qualification in a totally relaxed way. There haven't been any nasty surprises so far and we deserve credit for what we've done too.

``We want to carry on this way so that we can fly to Brazil with the desire to win rather than with a fear of losing.''

The Czech Republic may trail Italy by five points having earned eight from the group so far, but history is on the hosts' side given they have only ever lost once to the Azzurri.

Buffon added: ``They won't give anything away. If we approach the game in a low-key mood then we run the risk of losing.

``We might tear them apart if we play our usual football but all we're focused on is playing a great game and putting distance between ourselves and our pursuers.''

Italy are without Genoa full-back Luca Antonelli due to an ankle injury as coach Cesare Prandelli prepares to keep faith with much the side which beat San Marino 4-0 in a friendly game last week.

Juve defender Andrea Barzagli and AC Milan forward Stephan El Shaarawy did miss out and could feature while Torino winger Alessio Cerci pushes for a rare start.

Chelsea keeper Petr Cech continues to close in on Karel Poborsky's record 118 appearances for the Czech Republic and he will be 17 caps shy of that target if he plays tomorrow night.

Udinese striker Matej Vydra, who scored two goals in the Republic's 3-0 victory over Armenia in March, should lead the Czech line in front of the creative talents of Arsenal midfielder Tomas Rosicky.

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