Italy kick off their Nations League campaign with the visit of Poland. The four-time World Cup winners failed to qualify for the showpiece event in Russia for the first time in 60 years and were the glaring omission from a star studded cast of heavyweight nations competing. Meanwhile, the Eagles underwhelmed tremendously, finishing bottom of Group H.
Where and when: Stadio Renato Dall’Ara, Bologna – 7 September, kick-off 19:45
Where you can see Italy vs. Poland: Sky Sports Mix
Last time: The Azzurri ran out 2-0 winners when the countries met in November 2011. Mario Balotelli and Giampaolo Pazzini got the goals and the Nice forward is one of only two survivors from the starting eleven, alongside stalwart Giorgio Chiellini.
After a lengthy process, former Manchester City and Inter manager Roberto Mancini was appointed the successor to Gian Piero Ventura after the journeyman’s shocking tenure as Italy boss. Mancini brings pedigree and fresh ideas, and his first action as national team Coach was to reintroduce Balotelli in to the fold. The striker may have his detractors but is by far and away Italy’s best striker and the Azzurri would have featured in Russia if the striker was brought back in to the reckoning during qualifying. Balotelli is available at 8/2 to open the scoring and net his 15th international goal for Italy.
|Over 2.5 goals||11/8||Offer|
|Both teams to score||11/0||Offer|
|Italy to win 2-0||36/5||Offer|
Mancini has welcomed new names in to his squad with the exciting Pietro Pellegri receiving his first call up to the senior side. The 17-year-old is physically imposing, standing at 6′ 2″ and is one for the future. The Azzurri are 5/6 to begin a new era in positive fashion, and set up a battle with Portugal for a place in the last four of the competition.
Visitors Poland were expected to advance to the Round of 16 in Russia but fell at the first hurdle. The side led by Robert Lewandowski lost two of their three clashes and are going through a rebuilding process of their own with new tactician Jerzy Brzeczek replacing Adam Nawałka. Despite their poor showing, the Eagles will always be a threat with Lewandowski in the team and the Bayern Munich hitman is the 3/1 favourite to register first. Poland are 10/3 to secure an impressive win.
One to watch for Italy: Lorenzo Insigne. The Napoli fan favourite will start from the left hand side of a front three and is priced at 16/2 in the anytime market.
One to watch for Poland: Piotr Zielinski. The Azzurri midfielder is now a regular in the side and already has two goals to his name under Carlo Ancelotti’s tutelage. Zielinski can be found at 9/1 in the same market as club team-mate Insigne.
Long shot: Italy were known to go through the motions in friendlies and the hope is the new Nations League format will change this approach. Mancini’s target is a place at EURO 2020 and building momentum to the qualifying process is essential. The Azzurri need a confidence boosting win and a 4-0 success is 60/1.