Following their World Cup humiliation, Italy hope to bounce back at the first opportunity when they kick-off their EURO 2020 qualifying campaign against Finland. The Azzurri were the notable absentees from the showcase event in Russia and will do battle with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece and their opening opponents for the top two spots.
Where and when: Stadio Friuli, Udine – 23 March, kick-off 19:45
Where you can see Italy vs. Finland: Sky Sports
Last time: Antonio Candreva and Daniele De Rossi netted in a comfortable 2-0 win for the Azzurri when the nations met in June 2016.
|Italy to win 1-0||3/1||Offer|
|Lorenzo Insigne to score anytime||7/4||Offer|
|Under 0.5 goals||7/1||Offer|
Italy vs. Finland Predictions and Preview
Despite an underwhelming start to life as Italy boss, there is fresh optimism surrounding Roberto Mancini and his new look squad. The former Manchester City title winning manager called up starlets Moise Kean, Nicolo Zaniolo and Nicolo Barella, and the trio are all in contention to feature in the first qualifier.
Zaniolo has been one of the revelations of the season and is attracting strong interest from champions Juventus as they put together their summer shopping list. Zaniolo is 3/1 to score anytime during the clash while fellow youth graduate and close friend Kean is 8/5 in the same market.
Mario Balotelli was a surprising exclusion from Mancini’s squad after performing well with Marseille. The forward misses out in favour of evergreen Fabio Quagliarella, Leonardo Pavoletti, Ciro Immobile and Kevin Lasagne with Immobile expected to get the nod. Either side of the Lazio man will be Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi who deserves his place after his heroics for Max Allegri’s side in the Champions League.
The talented wideman was instrumental in the Bianconeri’s fightback against Atletico Madrid and needs to replicate this form on the international scene as Italy begin a new cycle. The Azzurri are 2/7 to register a significant win while Bernardeschi is 7/1 to open proceedings.
Visitors Finland have nothing to lose and should give a good account of themselves. Striker Teemu Pukki is the standout name in Markku Kanerva’s squad after a stunning domestic campaign with Norwich City. The striker has 25 goals to his name and is 12/1 to bag first on the night. Finland are priced at 10/1 to shock the Azzurri and claim all three points and 4/1 to earn a draw.
One to watch for Italy: Leonardo Pavoletti is averaging a goal every two appearances for Cagliari and will be a useful asset if called upon after the break. The big hitman is 8/2 to strike last.
One to watch for Finland: Veteran Kasper Hämäläinen only trails Pukki for goals in the Finnish camp and is 28/1 in the same market.
Long shot: Italy possess a collection of promising youngsters and it is up to Mancini to mould them in to a functioning starting line-up. The experienced quartet of Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, Alessandro Florenzi and Marco Verratti will aid the likes of Zaniolo, Kean and Alessio Romagnoli and the Azzurri really should have too much for the Finland travelling party. A 3-0 triumph for the hosts is 6/1.