Nobody remembers that the Italians are the reigning EURO champions. Their epic win over England at Wembley faded after some unexpected results and a shocking exit in the World Cup playoffs. That was the second time in a row that Azzurri skipped the biggest tournament in soccer, which is a national humiliation. On the other side, England’s failures are deeply carved into the memory of their fans. Losing the finals against Italy was a tragedy, and we can say the same for the loss against France in Qatar. Because of all this, winning on Thursday is imperative for both units.
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Italy (+160) had a solid run in the UEFA Nations League, winning the group ahead of Hungary, Germany, and England. Azzurri were victorious in Hungary in the UNL’s final round with first place at stake. Roberto Mancini’s unit was routine, 0-2, schooling the rivals in all the aspects of play and showing a significant improvement compared to some previous games.
Throughout the UNL campaign, Italy recorded three wins, two ties and one loss. Germany was the only team to beat Mancini’s squad, and it was one hell of an experience for Azzurri, who conceded five goals while scoring two during those 90 minutes.
Italy had pretty shocking performances at home over the previous two years, like the one against Macedonia once they lost the chance to reach Qatar. Though in the past few months, Azzuri were solid, beating Hungary and England, and posting a tie against Germany.
England‘s (+175) World Cup run stopped in the quarterfinals against France. Once again, the penalty spot was deadly for the Albion, and to make it even worse, one of the best penalty-takers in their history, Harry Kane, was the one who failed to convert it.
The Three Lions had the rivals in this one, but failed to utilize the initiative on the field. Closing big games is England’s problem, and we don’t know why. Simply that’s been the case throughout history. Anyhow, this was the last game this team played.
Overall, in the past two years, England looked well. Apart from the UNL campaign, which was disappointing, and where Southgate’s unit finished last in the group, and got relegated to the B division, Albion’s results were excellent. They were among the most confident teams in Qatar, but they couldn’t capitalize on that.
Immobile is injured and out for Italy, and that’s a big problem. Other than that, all the key players are called up.
Sterling is not called up, while Ivan Toney is. Alexander-Arnold is out too, the same as Ben white.
Head to Head
The last UEFA Nations League edition saw these two teams meeting twice. After 0-0 at Wembley, Italy won at home, 1-0.
Both teams prefer to avoid attacking nor opening up and trying to impose some offensive-minded game plan. Hard defense is Italy’s trademark, while on the other side, since Southgate took over England, the Albion has one of the best back-lines in the world. Under 2.5 goals here should be an easy winner, and -166, which is the bookies’ offer sounds solid.
Pick: Under 2.5 goals -166
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.