Spain vs Italy Match Preview
The European section of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup is warming up nicely with four rounds of matches to go, and of all the groups few are as tantalisingly poised as Group G.
Spain and Italy are miles clear of the rest, but here’s the thing: only one of them will book their place in Russia automatically, while the runner-up must suffer the short-shredding pressure of the play-offs.
The pair are locked on 16 points at the top of the group, so who will earn the bragging rights here and, more importantly, the three points in Madrid on Saturday evening?
The bookmakers are sweet on Spain to clinch the three points on home soil, and they are available at odds-on prices across the board – 17/20 with William Hill is about as good as it gets.
So why such confidence? Well, the Spaniard’s incredible record on home soil has to be taken into consideration. If we discount friendlies, the last time they lost a qualifying match of any kind in Spain was June 2003! Since then their return in European Championship and Word Cup qualifiers reads W31 D4 L0, so perhaps that is a good value price after all.
It has been a qualification campaign of two halves for the Italians, who have been excellent at home but vulnerable on their travels. You only have to look at their lucky 3-2 win in Macedonia, courtesy of a 92nd minute goal from Ciro Immobile, as evidence of that. They have not kicked on since impressing at Euro 2016.
So despite our instincts telling us this will be a close game, all of the numbers point to a fairly comfortable Spain victory.
Individual Goal Scorers
At this time of the year it is perhaps wise to back those players in the individual goalscorer markets that have started the domestic campaign in decent fashion.
The Chelsea hitman has notched two goals in as many games for the Blues this term, and in creating another pair of goals the frontman has confirmed his excellent current form. He will surely get the nod in the number nine role for Spain, and as such has to be the favourite to find the net in Madrid.
Have Italy any hope? Well, the Spaniards have conceded in four of their last six international games, and with Sergio Ramos at the heart of their defence anything is possible.
The Italians’ standout player is Lorenzo Insigne, the diminutive Napoli winger who is a joy to behold when in full flight. In four games for his club side this term he has created two goals and netted himself against Nice in the Champions League qualifiers, and he was on the scoresheet in Italy’s last outing against Liechtenstein. Gobble up the 9/2 with Betfred on him to score at any time in Madrid.
Other Side Bets
We have, vicariously at least, made the case for a few goals to be scored in this encounter, and the fact that Spain have conceded against Colombia and Israel in their last two home matches adds fuel to the fire.
The passionate Bernabeu crowd often gives centre back Gerard Pique a tough time – that’s the Real-Barcelona rivalry playing out, and that has to affect his performance levels. With the ever-peculiar Sergio Ramos alongside him, the Italians have a great chance to take advantage.
So, Both Teams to Score (11/10 with SkyBet) and Over 2.5 Goals (11/8 with Paddy Power) both hold appeal, and the more adventurous punters out there will combine the two at 2/1 with Coral.
- Spain to Win (17/20 with William Hill)
- Alvaro Morata to Score Anytime (24/13 with 888sport)
- Over 2.5 Goals (11/8 with Paddy Power)