Prediction: Poland to Win 1-0
Italy and Poland will be aiming to take a significant step towards qualification for the UEFA Nations League finals as they go head to head in Reggio Emilia on Sunday evening.
The sides occupy the top two positions in League A Group 1, with Jerzy Brzęczek one point clear of the Italians on seven points. It could be suggested then that this clash could go a long way in deciding which nation progresses to the finals next October.
Despite still firmly being in contention as group winners, it hasn’t quite be as a convincing UEFA Nations League campaign that boss Head Coach Roberto Mancini envisaged. The Azzurri have only won one out of their four group matches so far, that being a slender 1-0 win over the Netherlands in September. One of their main problems has been in attack having only netted three goals so far in the tournament. Had they netted with more regularity, qualification for the finals might well have been more of a formality. Despite those troubles, the nation are actually in very good form. Mancini’s men are undefeated in their last 20 matches in all competitions and have not lost a game on home soil since a 3-1 loss at the hands of current World Champions France way back in September 2016. They are also undefeated at home in the UEFA Nations League – albeit having drawn all of their games thus far, none of those matches having seen more than two goals.
The most significant absentee for Italy is not actually a player but Head Coach Mancini. He has tested positive for COVID-19 so will not actually be present at the game. Meanwhile, right-back Danilo D’Ambrosio is out through suspension. Striker Andrea Belotti could return to the line-up after serving his respective ban and will hope to join Alessio Romagnoli in the starting line-up, who is recovering from injury.
In what is somewhat of an opposite to this weekend’s hosts, Poland have quietly had an impressive Nations League campaign. Matched with the likes of Italy and the Netherlands, Brzeczek’s men have only lost one game in the tournament – a 1-0 defeat to the Dutch two months ago. That positive form also extends elsewhere with the defeat against Holland being one of just two losses that they have suffered within their last 17 games in all competitions. A huge reason behind that hugely impressive run has been their defensive resolve. In those 17 matches, Poland have managed to keep clean sheets in ten including each of the last three games. Coming up against an Italy side that is currently struggling for goals, that will surely come in extremely useful. It’s not just in defence where the team are blessed however. With the talents of Robert Lewandowski to call upon, they have also been extremely prolific, netting 12 goals in just the six games since international football returned.
Leeds United midfielder Mateusz Klich is ruled out for the trip to Italy due to suspension and will be replaced by Piotr Zielinski.
Key Facts To Consider
- The majority of games between the two nations have been draws (three Poland wins, 8 draws, six Italy wins)
- In the three previous UEFA Nations League games between the two, there has only been three goals scored
- Robert Lewandowski has contributed to five goals in five Nations League appearances (two goals, three assists)
- Italy have never scored more than one goal in a single UEFA Nations League match
- Italy have kept clean sheets in their last four away matches
This game might not quite the most thrilling watch. The two teams do not actually produce many goals when they come together and considering their excellent respective defensive records recently, they could well cancel each other out on Sunday. Expect a low scoring affair which if Lewandowski continues his stunning club form, could go the way of the home side.
Prediction: Poland to Win 1-0
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