Prediction and odds for the game: Italy (1/7) vs Northern Ireland (16/1)
We are backing under 2.5 goals scored at odds of 43/40
When: Thursday, 25th March 2021, Kick-off 19:45
Where: The Stadio Ennio Tardini
On Thursday night, Italy and Northern Ireland clash in Parma, as both teams look to kick-off their World Cup qualifying campaigns with a victory.
The home side are in good form heading into this opening Group C clash. The Azzurri will be highly confident of comfortably topping their group. They are currently on a run of three consecutive wins, having beaten Estonia, Poland and Bosnia and Herzegovina while keeping three clean sheets. In fact, Roberto Mancini’s team has conceded just once in their last seven international matches.
Their defensive efforts have helped Italy to maintain a 22-match undefeated run since they suffered a 1-0 defeat against Portugal in a Nations League clash back in 2018.
The Azzurri have been incredibly difficult to beat in qualifying for World Cup’s, as they have suffered just two of their last 39 matches in qualifiers. Both of those defeats came in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup when they failed to qualify for the finals for the first time since 1958.
Italy have never lost a World Cup qualifier on home soil, a run that consists of an incredible 55 games. They have won 46 of those home qualifiers, but have drawn their last two on their own patch.
The visitors have qualified for the World Cup finals on three occasions, but their last appearance came back in 1986. They have since qualified for just one European Championship too, which was in 2016. Ian Baraclough’s team will maybe fancy themselves as contenders for the runners-up spot, with Italy major favourites to take the only automatic qualification available in the group.
Northern Ireland will have to up their game though if they are to have any chance of claiming one of those potentially valuable play-off spots. The visitors have claimed just one victory from their previous ten international outings while failing to record a victory in their last five outings.
A promising qualification campaign for World Cup 2018 came to nothing after they failed to win any of their last four qualifiers, including suffering three defeats. To be fair one of those defeats was against Germany.
Northern Ireland don’t have a great away record in World Cup qualifying, winning just three of their last 23 qualifiers on their travels. A win in Parma would be a truly historic one considering the home sides record on home soil in qualifiers.
We fancy Italy to record a win in this clash, but the home win is short odds for us. Instead, we are backing Italy half-time/full-time, which is slightly better odds of 8/13. We are also backing under 2.5 goals scored, as Italy are so tight in defence, while Northern Ireland are not exactly prolific in attack.
Verdict: We are backing under 2.5 goals scored at odds of 43/40 and/or Italy half-time/full-time at odds of 8/13. (All odds are taken from Bet365).[geosnippet id=3620]
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Can Italy continue their incredible home record in World Cup qualifiers?