Italy kick-off their Nations League campaign at home to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Roberto Mancini’s men are expected to battle it out with the Netherlands for top spot in Group 1 but won’t take The Golden Lilies for granted, or, indeed, Poland. The visitors will be led by a familiar face in Edin Dzeko.
Where and when: Artemio Franchi, Florence – 4 September, kick-off 19:45
Where you can see Italy vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina: Sky Sports
Last time: Francesco Acerbi, Lorenzo Insigne and Andrea Belotti were all on the scoresheet in the Euro 2020 qualifier.
Italy v Bosnia and Herzegovina Predictions and Preview
Mancini selected 37 players for the double header with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Holland with Francesco Caputo, Manuel Locatelli and Alessandro Bastoni called up for the first time.
Sassuolo pair Caputo and Locatelli shone in Serie A and both are in line for debuts. Only Cristiano Ronaldo, Romelu Lukaku and Ciro Immobile bagged more than the Neroverdi frontman and the 33-year-old is fully deserving of his opportunity.
|Our Eurotips||Odds||Free bets||Bookie|
|Italy to win 2-0||6/1||Offer|
|Draw and both teams to score||11/2||Offer|
|Federico Chiesa to score first||7/2||Offer|
Belotti and Immobile are certainties to go to next summer’s European Championship but there is an opening for Caputo, particularly if he posts similar numbers during the 2020-21 campaign. The striker is 13/5 to register anytime and should feature after the break. Meanwhile, Immobile, who outscored Robert Lewandowski, Karim Benzema and every player on the continent, is 23/10 favourite to open proceedings.
Mancini has a welcome selection headache in midfield with six genuine first-teamers battling it out for three roles. Jorginho, Stefano Sensi, Sandro Tonali, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Gaetano Castrovilli and Nicolò Barella offer quality and strength in depth that no other country than compete with.
Nicolò Zaniolo can also be classified in the same bracket but is able to play across the forward line. Alongside Gigio Donnarumma and Tonali, the Roma prodigy has the ability to become world class and win individual accolades.
Zaniolo, a target for Juventus and Tottenham Hotspur, is 11/2 to notch anytime and it won’t be long before the elegant Tuscan is a regular in the national team. The Azzurri are 1/3 to win on the night.
Elsewhere, Dusan Bajevic will be banking on Dzeko to trouble the home squad. Like Giallorossi team-mate Zaniolo, the hitman is the subject of strong interest from the Bianconeri as well as Inter. Dzeko is 13/5 to break the deadlock and add to his 58-goal tally for The Golden Lilies. Bosnia and Herzegovina are 15/2 to come away with the spoils and a draw is 4/1.
One to watch for Italy: Federico Bernardeschi is at a crossroads in his club career but is still of much value to Mancini. The winger is 13/2 to hit the final effort of the contest.
One to watch for Bosnia and Herzegovina: Edin Višća played a huge part in Istanbul Başakşehir winning their first ever Süper Lig title and is full of confidence. The attacker is 14/1 in the same betting.
Long shot: Italy have hammered in 19 strikes from their last four matches and Mancini has done a terrific job rebuilding a broken footballing nation. The Azzurri are blessed with great depth in every department and could overpower Bosnia and Herzegovina early on. A resounding 4-0 triumph is 29/2.