Friday, November 15, 2019

Prediction: Italy vs Greece

Verdict: Italy to score over 2.5 goals

Best Odds: 6/5

Bookmaker: Bet365

All but securing their spot at next year’s European Championships, a high-flying Italy will welcome Greece to the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday night.

Italy

Starting with the hosts, while Italy may have failed to book a spot at last year’s World Cup finals, the Blues have really started to enjoy a revival under former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini. Picking up a 2-1 win away in Finland last month, Gli Azzurri have won all six of their Group J appearances entering October and are one of just four nations to boast a 100% run during qualifying. Now enjoying an unbeaten run that stems all the way back to the 10th of September and all but securing an automatic route to EURO 2020, it will undoubtedly be their continued success in the final third most impressing fans around the Stadio Olimpico. Led by the attacking dup of both Ciro Immobile and Andrea Belotti who have scored in back-to-back matchups while on international duty, Italy have already bagged 18 goals during qualifying and are averaging three strikes per game in their six Group J outings.

Team News

The home side will be without Stefano Sensi, who picked up an injury in Inter’s recent 2-1 defeat at the hands of Juve. That means that there’s a place for the exciting Nicolo Zaniolo in the senior squad.

Greece

As for the visitors, while the mood in Italy’s camp might be at a continued high, the same can not be said for a Greece side low on both form and confidence. Only managing to scrape a 1-1 draw against rock-bottom Liechtenstein last month, the former European champions have lost four of their last five matches across all competitions and have won just one of their six Group J appearances. While they may have turned to former Ajax winger John van’t Schip back in June, Ethniki are now seen to be a huge underdog to secure a shocking route out of Group J. Now sat seven points adrift of Finland and that lucrative second spot with just four qualifying matches remaining, Greece also hold some unpleasant memories in their previous meeting against Italy. When the two nations met back in June, Saturday’s hosts picked up a commanding 3-0 victory.

Team News

New manager John van’t Schip has made a whole host of surprising omissions from his Greece squad. Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Kostas Manolas and Kostas Mitroglou have all been overlooked by the new boss.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Italy have won all six of their Group J appearances.
  • The Blues are also averaging three strikes per game during qualifying.
  • The last time the two nations met back in June Italy came away with a 3-0 victory.
  • Greece have lost four of their last five matches and have failed to win any of their last six appearances across all competitions.
  • Greece have not beaten Italy since March 1972.

Conclusion

On paper, Italy should see this as a golden opportunity to extend their 100% run in Group J. Enjoying quite the resurge under former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini the mood around the Stadio Olimpico continues to soar, it is hard to overlook Gli Azzurri’s clinical edge in the final third. Picking up a 3-0 win when the two sides met back in June, we’re backing Italy to enjoy another free-scoring night.

Verdict: Italy to score over 2.5 goals

Best Odds: 6/5

Bookmaker: Bet365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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