Italy are bidding to keep up their 100% record at the start of their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, as they travel to Finland on Sunday evening. The Azzurri have already beaten the Huuhkajat in Group J, and a victory for Roberto Mancini’s side this weekend would see them all but guaranteed a spot at next summer’s pan-European showpiece.
Where and when: Tampere Stadium – 8 September, kick-off 19:45
Where you can see Finland vs. Italy: Sky Sports
Last time: Nicolo Barella and Moise Kean scored in each half for the Azzurri as Italy beat Finland 2-0 in Udine back in March.
Finland v Italy Predictions and Preview
Italy have never lost a game against Finland, and are aiming to make it nine straight victories over the Scandinavian outfit on Sunday. The meeting between the teams in March was their opening fixture in Euro 2020 qualifying, but the Finns have recovered from that defeat to win their last four matches.
That includes a 1-0 victory over Greece on Thursday, while the Azzurri made it five wins from five as they beat Armenia 3-1 away. Another victory on the road for Mancini’s team coupled with Bosnia failing to beat Armenia away would mean Italy can start making their plans for next summer with three matches to spare.
Although that’s not going to erase the memory or hurt of missing out on last summer’s World Cup, it would at least restore a little bit of the pride that was lost in Italian football. Two players who can’t be proud of themselves right now though are Moise Kean and Nicolo Zaniolo, who’ve both been cut from this squad due to being late for a team meeting.
|Our Eurotips||Odds||Free bets||Bookie|
|Teemu Pukki to score first||16/1||Offer|
|Italy to win to nil||29/20||Offer|
That shows Mancini’s ruthless streak, and is a clear lesson to the young players in the Azzurri setup of the standards expected of them. With only two outfield players over the age of 30 – captain Leonardo Bonucci and full-back Danilo D’Ambrosio, who only has two caps – this is an inexperienced squad that needs shaping as it emerges from the ashes of last year.
There’s still plenty of talent though, and certainly enough to see off this Finnish side. Markku Kanerva does however have an ace in the hole in the form of Teemu Pukki. The Norwich City forward is the talk of the Premier League after taking the English top flight by storm at the start of the new season, bagging five goals in his first four matches in the division.
Even so, and despite Finland boasting home advantage here at the Tampere Stadium, Italy are the strong odds-on favourites with the bookmakers. The visitors are 8/13 for the win, while the Huuhkajat are 9/2, the draw available at 12/5.
One to watch for Finland: Teemu Pukki has been a revelation in his first few weeks as a Premier League player, and is looking for his 20th international goal here, in what will be his 76th appearance for his country. He is 8/1 to get it with the opening goal on Sunday evening.
One to watch for Italy: Chelsea midfielder Jorginho is one of the more experienced heads in this Italy side, although he only has 18 caps for the Azzurri. With only one goal to his name so far, Jorginho could be on penalty duties which would make his first goalscorer price of 16/1 very attractive.
Long shot: Finland have never beaten Italy, and it would be a major surprise if they managed to do so here. The only time the Huuhkajat have avoided defeat against the Azzurri was a goalless draw back in 1975, with a 0-0 scoreline this weekend priced at 7/1.