Football: Diego Costa to make Spain debut, Italy finalise World Cup preparations

MADRID (AFP) - Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa is set to make his long-awaited debut for Spain when the world champions host Italy on Wednesday in their final match before both sides name their squads for the World Cup.

Ironically, Costa also made his debut for the country of his birth, Brazil, against the Azzurri just over a year ago.

However, he has since switched allegiance to his adopted country and having missed friendlies against Equatorial Guinea and South Africa in November due to injury, will get his first taste of action for Spain at his club ground of the Vicente Calderon.

The 25-year-old is expected to rival Manchester City's Alvaro Negredo for the lone striker's role in Brazil later this year as coach Vicente del Bosque has left out his previously preferred pairing of David Villa and Fernando Torres from his 22-man squad.

Gerard Pique is Spain's only big name absentee through injury so Sergio Ramos will be partnered in central defence by either Javi Martinez or Raul Albiol,

Italy will be out to avenge recent defeats to La Roja in the Euro 2012 final and on penalties in last year's Confederations Cup semi-final.

However, they are more affected by injuries and disciplinary issues as Mario Balotelli missed out on Cesare Prandelli's 26-man squad due to a shoulder problem.

Roma's Daniele de Rossi was also left out due to Prandelli's code of conduct after punching Inter Milan's Mauro Icardi during their 0-0 draw on Saturday.

Paris Saint Germain midfielder Marco Verratti returns to the squad for the first time in a year, while Torino forward Ciro Immobile and Parma defender Gabriel Paletta could make their debuts.

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