Friday, August 17, 2018

Prediction: Italy vs Saudi Arabia

SoccerPredictions in Free Soccer Predictions 25 May 2018

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Verdict: Home win & both teams to score

Best Odds: 18/5

Bookmaker: 888sport

A new era for the Italian national team starts with the international friendly against Saudi Arabia as new boss Roberto Mancini hopes to get the team back on track after a disappointing 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign. The Green Falcons, on the other hand, are preparing for their fifth appearance at the World Cup finals, hoping to make it three friendly wins in a row.

Italy

One of world’s most successful national teams have been on a downtrend of late and they will now miss the World Cup finals for the first time after 60 years and only second time since their first World Cup tournament in 1934. The Azzurri have been utterly disappointing at the previous two editions, crashing out in the group stage in South Africa and Brazil before a defeat in the play-offs against Sweden saw them miss the tournament in Russia.

After a careful deliberation, the national team bosses decided to replace Giampiero Ventura with Roberto Mancini, who recently announced his first squad, bringing controversial striker Mario Balotelli back to the fold. There were some other changes as Marco Verratti, Antonio Candreva and Matteo Darmian were all omitted, whereas uncapped Mattia Caldara, Daniele Baselli, Rolando Mandragora, Domenico Berardi and Matteo Politano were all given a chance to shine.

Team News

Emerson Palmieri, Claudio Marchisio and Federico Bernardeschi were forced to withdraw through injury, but Roberto Mancini has so far failed to bring any replacements.

Saudi Arabia

It was not until late 1970’s that Saudi Arabia first took part in World Cup qualifiers, and they had to wait until 1994 before making their first appearance at the tournament finals. The Green Falcons, however, managed to reach the first knockout stage on their debut before getting eliminated in the group stage in 1998, 2002 and 2006. Saudi Arabia then missed next two tournaments, but did well to book a ticket to Russia.

The Green Falcons even managed to finish above Australia, narrowly avoiding the play-offs, as 1-0 win over leaders Japan proved enough to secure a qualifying berth. The national team chiefs surprisingly decided to appoint Juan Antonio Pizzi as their new head coach in January 2018, and following some initial struggles, the former Chile boss has done really well of late. Namely, Saudi Arabia enjoyed friendly wins over Algeria and Greece, although this will be a completely different ball game.

Team News

Waleed Abdullah (72 caps), Hassan Muath (68 caps/4 goals), Mohammad Al-Shalhoub (118 caps/19 goals) and Nasser Al-Shamrani (78 caps/19 goals) are some of the notable players to have been overlooked.

Key Factors to Consider

  • The two sides meet for the first time
  • Italy winless in last four international matches
  • Saudi Arabia recorded back to back wins over Algeria and Greece
  • The Azzurri to test five uncapped footballers
  • Mario Balotelli returns after a four-year absence

Conclusion

Even though the match takes place in St Gallen, Switzerland, new-look Italy have got to be considered favourites to emerge victorious given that all players will be keen to impress new boss Roberto Mancini. Buoyed by the last two wins, Saudi Arabia can be trusted to produce a decent showing, and they might just be able to score a consolation goal.

Verdict: Home win & both teams to score

Best Odds: 18/5

Bookmaker: 888sport

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