Monday, April 22, 2019

Prediction: Italy vs Portugal

Tom Dunstan in Free Soccer Predictions 17 Nov 2018

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Verdict: Both teams to score

Best Odds: 1/1

Bookmaker: Bet365

Italy will be hoping to keep their slim chances of Nations League glory alive when they welcome Portugal to San Siro for their final group game on Saturday.

Italy

Starting with Saturday’s hosts, while a stoppage-time winner may have helped Italy pick up a much-needed 1-0 win away in Poland last month, Roberto Mancini’s tenure in Milan has been far from perfect. Now managing to record just two wins in his seven games in charge, the former Manchester City boss will know he must improve on his sides defensive record immediately. Italy have now managed to record just one clean sheet in 2018 and their odds of qualifying in this years UEFA Nations League are incredibly thin. Picking up just four points out of a possible nine, they now sit two points adrift of Portugal who also have one game in hand. A nation that is drastically looking to rebuild after failing to make it to Russia over the summer, the 2006 World champions will also be defending their two-year unbeaten home record on Saturday. If the hosts are to come away with the victory, Mancini will be looking for Napoli forward Lorenzo Insigne to lead from the front. The 27-year-old has already recorded three Champions League goals this campaign.

Team News

Federico Bernardeschi has withdrawn from the squad through injury, while Roberto Mancini has made several changes to the squad as he continues to look for his best XI. Giorgio Chiellini will win his 100th cap, starting as captain, but the squad also features several less-experienced players, including Brescia’s 18-year-old Sandro Tonali.

Portugal

As for the visitors, despite enduring a poor run over in Russia, the European champions are enjoying a bright run in this years UEFA Nations League. Winning both of their opening group matches, including a 1-0 win over Italy back in September, another victory will book Fernando Santos’ sides spot in the semi-finals. Now enjoying a three-match winning run across all competitions, many have been surprised by Portugal’s goalscoring exploits without Cristiano Ronaldo. Scoring six in their last three, the visitors will be looking for Sevilla forward Andre Silva to carry on his impressive start to the season. The 23-year-old has eight goals to his name this season and also scored the winner against Gli Azzuri in the reverse fixture. While they are now unbeaten in all competitions since losing to Uruguay at the World Cup, they have also had some defensive troubles of late. Portugal have recorded just one clean sheet in their last six.

Team News

There is no place in the Portugal squad for Wolves’ Helder Costa despite his goalscoring debut last month. Despite press suggestions he was set to return to the national fold, Cristiano Ronaldo is again not included – having not played for Portugal since the World Cup. Pepe is suspended for the game against Italy.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Portugal have only won six of their previous 26 matches against Italy, with the Italians winning 18.
  • However, the visitors have won the last two meetings with Italy.
  • The Italians are unbeaten at home in over two years.
  • The Blues have won just one of their last six matches in all competitions.
  • Combined, the two nations have recorded just two clean sheets in their last 16 matches.

Conclusion

On paper, it has all the makings of an incredible game at the San Siro. With Mancini’s tenure in Italy summarised by their defensive issues, it is hard to see the Blues keeping out a free-scoring Portugal side.  However, with the visitors own issues at the back, it appears there will be plenty of chances at both ends. With both sides managing to keep just two clean sheets in their last 16 matches combined, we feel that back both teams to score is the safest bet on Saturday.

Verdict: Both teams to score 

Best Odds: 1/1

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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