Cassano to start against Spain

ROME - Antonio Cassano will start up front for Italy in Wednesday's friendly against Spain in his hometown of Bari with Mario Balotelli having to settle for a place on the bench.

Coach Cesare Prandelli was his usual open self on the eve of a game and named most of his team.

"With Cassano alongside Giuseppe Rossi, we won't give the opposition someone to mark like we would have done with an out-and-out centre forward like Giampaolo Pazzini," Prandelli told reporters on Tuesday.

"Antonio knows this is an important game, in front of his people."

While the AC Milan and former Real Madrid forward aims to bamboozle the world champions, Manchester City's Balotelli will watch on after causing yet more controversy with his wacky on-field behaviour in recent weeks.

"Mario must just concentrate on what he does on the field. In only two days of training he has not managed to annoy me yet," Prandelli joked.

Italy team:

Gianluigi Buffon; Christian Maggio, Andrea Ranocchia, Giorgio Chiellini, Domenico Criscito; Andrea Pirlo, Daniele De Rossi, Thiago Motta; Alberto Aquilani or Riccardo Montolivo; Giuseppe Rossi, Antonio Cassano.