Arguably one of Europe’s surprise packages over the past 12 months and enjoying a stellar run during qualifying for next year’s European Championships, a high-flying Italy will welcome Greece to Roma’s Stadio Olimpico on Saturday night.
Picking up a 2-1 win over Finland on foreign soil last month, the former world champions have won all six of their Group J appearances so far and are one of just four nations during qualifying to boast a 100% campaign.
Already holding a commanding six-point buffer at the top of Group J, Roberto Mancini’s men will know that another victory this weekend will see them bring an end to their major tournament exile.
While the mood in Italy’s camp might be on the rise, the same cannot be said for a Greek outfit low on both form and confidence.
Only managing to scrape a 1-1 draw off of Group J whipping boys Liechtenstein last month, Greece have failed to win any of their last five qualifying matchups and any chance of a dramatic turnaround appears to be off the table.
You might be interested to know, that with Italy securing an empathic 3-0 victory the last time the two nations met back in June, the Blues can be found at 5/1 with Bet365 to secure an identical outcome this weekend.
Italy’s revival continues
While Italy may have failed to secure a spot at the two previous major tournaments, Gli Azzurri are enjoying quite the resurge under former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini.
Now winning each of their opening six Group J matches and a huge favourite with the bookmakers to secure top spot come next month, the mood around Rome continues to soar.
Arguably playing their best football in recent memory, a huge part of the Blues’ recent revival has come thanks to their stellar form in the final third.
Already bagging 18 goals during qualifying and averaging three goals per game in Group J, you might be interested to know that the former world champions can be found at 3/5 with Coral to once again bag over 2.5 goals this weekend.
One man to keep an eye out for on Saturday will be leading marksman and Torino ace, Andrea Belotti.
Now bagging three goals in his last three appearances for the Serie A outfit and also finding the net against Armenia last month, the 25-year-old is pencilled in at 21/20 with Ladbrokes to extend his goalscoring run at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday night.
Greece in the midst of a crisis
Coming under more scrutiny after playing out a sluggish 1-1 draw at home to Liechtenstein last time out, a side who had previously lost all five of their Group J outings, the mood in Greece’s camp remains incredibly fragile.
Now failing to win any of their last five qualifying fixtures, the former European champions are still drastically struggling to adjust to life under new boss John van’t Schip.
With the former Ajax winger now watching his side chase down a seven-point deficit to that lucrative second-spot, it is no surprise that the Greeks are a huge underdog to secure an automatic route to EURO 2020.
Ethniki are priced as high as 16/1 to secure a route out of Group J, behind Finland, Bosnia, and Armenia.
While Greece will travel to the Stadio Olimpico low on both form and confidence, they should take some solace from the fact that Italy have failed to record a clean sheet in any of their previous three appearances.
With Van’t Schip’s men finding the net in all bar one of their last four matches on their travels, you might be interested to know that Saturday’s guests can be found at 21/10 with Ladbrokes to bag a consolation goal this weekend.