Saturday, September 23, 2017

Prediction: Spain vs Italy

Juan Pablo Aravena in Free Soccer Predictions 1 Sep 2017

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Verdict: Both teams to score – yes

Best Odds: 6/5

Bookmaker: bet365

There is little doubt Spain and Italy are two of the best European teams at the moment. Even though they might not be on the level they were only a few years ago, this rivalry remains one of the biggest in the UEFA region. And it will feature another chapter when both sides collide this Saturday on the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. The match starts at 19:45 BST at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid, Spain.

Spain

The glory days of Spain being the top team in the world do not exist anymore. But that does not mean La Furia Roja shouldn’t be considered a bonafide World Cup contender even if they haven’t been able to clinch their berth yet. Julen Lopetegui has assembled a competitive squad and the results have backed them up, since they have five wins and just one draw – against Italy – during the current Qualifiers. They have a good streak of results going as well, since they have not lost in their past seven matches across all competitions. But extending that streak against Italy will be tough. Spain will have to be at their best if they want to leave the three points at home. They will likely rely on the good form of players such as Marco Asensio, Suso, and David Villa. Spain have looked quite solid at home since they have won their three matches thus far.

Team News

Vitolo is out due to a knee injury, and his place will be taken by Lucas Vazquez. Suso has also been included, and there is a chance the AC Milan star features with La Roja for the first time in his career.

But without a doubt, the biggest name for Spain in this match is the return of David Villa. as the former Valencia and Barcelona striker has been tearing it up in the MLS and got a much-deserved call-up as a result. It remains to be seen how much gas he has left in the tank, though.

Italy

On the other hand, there is Italy. They are going through a renewal under the management of Giampiero Ventura, as they are looking to establish a mixture of young and experienced players looking ahead of a potential berth to the upcoming World Cup. Just like Spain, they have five wins and one draw in their six matches. And they have been dominant away from home, thanks to comfortable wins over Israel (1-3), Macedonia (2-3) and Liechtenstein (4-0). Just like it has been the case through their recent history, Italy rely on their defensive ability to get results, and this team is no different. With names such as Gianluigi Buffon, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli, we can foresee Italy being negative in an attempt to frustrate Spain’s potent attacking line. But they also have a lot of talent on the attack, so they are a team to watch on both ends of the pitch. They have been quite good of late. And a positive outcome against Spain would put them one step closer to Russia.

Team News

Star centre-back Giorgio Chiellini is out due to injury. As a result, Italy are likely to play with a four-man defensive line instead of their regular three-man unit.

No other players are dealing with injuries at the moment.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Both teams played to a 1-1 draw when they met during the current World Cup Qualifiers.
  • Italy’s defensive strength once again has been their calling card, as they have not conceded a single goal in their last 3 matches.
  • Both teams are carrying decent undefeated streaks. Italy have not lost in their last six matches, while Spain haven’t been defeated in their past seven encounters.
  • Spain scored at least one goal in their last 7 matches and Italy in their last 6 matches.
  • Each of the last 3 matches that Spain have played had over 2.5 goals.
  • Both teams sit at the top of the Group G standings with 16 points.

Conclusion

Both teams are among the best in Europe at the moment. And I do not see either side backing down considering what’s at stake. But considering both teams have found the back of the net in their past six matches, I believe that streak will get extended and both will score during the match.

Verdict: Both teams to score – yes

Best Odds: 6/5

Bookmaker: bet365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Juan Pablo Aravena


A freelance writer and sports analyst with almost five years of experience in the industry before joining SoccerNews, Juan Pablo Aravena is based in Chile and currently contributes to several publications and websites including SoccerNews, 12up, and Sports From The Basement, while also working as a fantasy beat writer for RotoWire, as a database editor for EA Sports, and as a football analyst for SmartOdds and InsideFutbol. His areas of focus are Serie A, Bundesliga, Premier League, LaLiga, and Ligue 1, but he has also written about MLS and South American football in the past.

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