Sunday, January 22, 2017

Prediction: Italy vs Scotland

Verdict: Both teams to score – No

Best Odds: 4/6

Bookmaker: bet365

Having failed to won a single game since the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign came to an end, Italy will be under pressure to beat Scotland in Malta despite this being a mere friendly game. Meanwhile, the Tartan Army are on a three-match winning run and they will fancy their chances of piling more misery on the Azzurri.

Italy

Italy have been on a clear downtrend since reaching the Euro 2012 final against all odds, and they have been so disappointing of late that many believe this to be their worst team in quite a while. Antonio Conte’s odd selection choices have also contributed to the downfall, as he refused to call on MLS stars Andrea Pirlo and Sebastian Giovinco despite the fact that Claudio Marchisio and Marco Verratti had both been ruled out through injury. After qualifying from one of the easiest groups, the Azzurri were soundly beaten by Belgium and Italy, while sharing spoils with Romania and Spain, and the problems continue to mount ahead of the tournament finals. Antonio Conte is sweating over the fitness of Riccardo Montolivo and Thiago Motta, and with virtually just a couple of high-quality players in the squad, this is shaping up to be another disappointing tournament for Italy. The Azzurri crashed out in the group stage at the 2014 World Cup finals, and they will have to show a massive improvement on their recent performances if they are to avoid a similar scenario. As far as the Scotland game is concerned, we are not too sure they will be able to break their hard-working opponents.

Team News

Daniele De Rossi and Matteo Darmian have resumed training after recovering from injury and they should both be in contention.

However, Riccardo Montolivo and Thiago Motta are certain to miss out. Antonio Conte is expected to field his side in a 3-5-2 formation.

Scotland

Scotland had the misfortune to be placed in arguably the toughest group in the Euro 2016 qualifiers, but they fought bravely and narrowly missed out on a play-off berth. And even though they failed to qualify for the tournament finals, close encounters with Germany, Poland and Republic of Ireland will keep them in good stead for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, where they stand a decent chance of finishing in top two alongside arch rivals England. Back to back friendly wins over Czech Republic and Denmark should see Scotland further improve their position in the FIFA rankings in the next period, meaning they should get an easier group for the Euro 2020, the tournament they will surely want to be part of. The next two friendly games against Italy and France will serve as excellent tests for Gordon Strachan’s men, but it’s a shame the boss will not be able to count on a number of important players. Robert Snodgrass, Allan McGregor, Shaun Maloney, Barry Bannan and Andrew Robertson are all unavailable as they are set to take part in the Championship play-off final, while Scott Brown, James Morrison and Steven Whittaker didn’t even make the squad.

Team News

Scott Fox, Stephen Kingsley, Jack Hamilton and Craig Bryson were added to the squad to compensate for numerous withdrawals.

Meanwhile, Chris Martin, Lee Wallace and Alan Hutton will not be in contention to face either Italy or France after pulling out.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Italy are unbeaten in last seven games vs Scotland (W5 D2)
  • Under 2.5 goals were scored in five of their eight meetings
  • Italy are winless in last six friendly games (D3 L3)
  • Both teams scored in five of those matches
  • Scotland won last three fixtures without conceding

Conclusion

Scotland have been in very good form of late and even though they will be missing some star players, they can be trusted to frustrate out-of-sorts Italy for large periods of the match. The Azzurri are completely out of form at the moment and we seriously doubt they can register more than one goal in Malta.

Verdict: Both teams to score – No

Best Odds: 4/6

Bookmaker: bet365

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