Italy coach Cesare Prandelli confirmed on Wednesday that experienced striker Alberto Gilardino will come in for the injured Mario Balotelli in Thursday's FIFA Confederations Cup semi-final with Spain.

Balotelli, 22, returned to Italy earlier this week after being ruled out of the tournament with a thigh muscle injury.

The AC Milan player has emerged as Italy's most important striker over the past year, but Prandelli said 30-year-old Gilardino, with whom he worked at Parma and Fiorentina, would prove a capable deputy.

"Gilardino is going to play," Prandelli said during the pre-game media conference at Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza.

"He's a trustworthy and reliable player. He's a reference point for the team and he's also good at scoring goals.

"I'm not playing him because I have a good relationship with him, but because he's one of the best attackers that we have."

Prandelli conceded that Balotelli's absence was a blow, but he suggested Italy might find ways of becoming even more effective without the former Manchester City striker on the pitch.

"I'm sorry he's not here, because I know he really wanted to be here," Prandelli said.

"Individually, he can give a great contribution to the team. Maybe we will lose something in terms of individual quality, but perhaps we can improve in terms of the overall quality of the team."

There's not an ideal method to deal with Spain and be certain you'll win against Spain.

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli

Spain crushed Italy 4-0 when the teams last met in the final of UEFA EURO 2012 last year, but Azzurri goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon rejected the notion that Thursday's reunion represented a revenge mission.

"I don't feel any resentment towards Spain, so revenge is not one of my aims," he said.

"What's closest to our hearts is showing that the gap between us is not as wide as was shown in the final of Euro 2012. Certainly, Spain are a reference for all teams."

Italy successfully stifled Spain in their opening group match at Euro 2012 in Poland, securing a 1-1 draw after playing with a three-man defence.

Prandelli subsequently fielded a four-man defence in the final, and he said that he had yet to decide which system to deploy against the world and European champions on Thursday.

"Teams that change formations aren't necessarily weak. It just means that they have ideas," he said.

"Regarding the tactical choices, in terms of formations and systems of play, we've tried several and we haven't decided yet. I want to see how some players respond in the last training session.

"In Gdansk in the Euro, we played in a different way (in the first game) but we played a good game. There's not an ideal method to deal with Spain and be certain you'll win against Spain.

"We know the game will be difficult because they always have possession for most of the time, but we need to read the situation and show the courage we showed (in the 4-2 loss) against Brazil."

The winners of Thursday's game will face hosts Brazil in the final at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana on Sunday.