Prediction & odds for the game: Italy (3/10) v Bosnia & Herzegovina (17/2)
When: Friday, 4th September @ 7.45pm K.O
Where: Stadio Artemio Franchi
The international break sees Italy face Bosnia & Herzegovina as the two square off in the return of the UEFA Nations League.
Fluctuating between complete underachievers and massive overachievers has been difficult for the Italians in recent years, because for every 2006 World Cup win and Euro 2012 runners-up medal, they’ve also got the humiliation of the 2010 loss to Slovakia and failing to even qualify for the 2018 World Cup. If they can switch on like they did during qualification, they’re capable of tearing Bosnia apart from post to post.
Italy’s surge has been ongoing for quite some time now, with their two wins over Armenia and Finland in September 2019 being a clear sign of that. They proceeded to beat Greece 2-0 and Liechtenstein 5-0, and while they did dismantle Armenia 9-1, most fans will choose to focus on their 3-0 demolition of – you guessed it – Bosnia.
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Since becoming known as Bosnia & Herzegovina, the national team have had one major highlight: qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. They didn’t quite live up to the hype with only one win and two losses in the group stage over in Brazil, but they’re hoping that they can make some noise in next year’s European Championship. They’ll want to use this Italy tie as a warm-up before their absolutely huge game against Northern Ireland and potentially Slovakia or Republic of Ireland next month.
Losing 4-2 to Armenia in September was the definition of a shocking result, but that was sandwiched between a 4-1 win over Finland and a 5-0 success against Liechtenstein. They let their Euro 2021 ambitions slip ever so slightly with losses to Greece and Italy, but they did beat Liechtenstein once again to set themselves up for a place in the playoffs.
Both of these sides are capable of scoring bucket loads of goals, but they also haven’t played in a competitive game since back in November – and plenty of the players in question will still be reeling from the physical demands of a competitive season that barely finished a month ago. We’re expecting this to be a pretty cagey affair on both sides of the ball, but in the end, the former world champions Italy will edge out a fairly unattractive 1-0 win.
We therefore don’t think that there are going to be all too many goals, which is why we’re backing the under 2.5 goals market. That isn’t to say this won’t turn out to be some kind of complex, entertaining chess match, but we can’t escape the fact that many fans are choosing to view this as little more than a friendly disguised as a tournament with some importance attached to it.
Verdict: Back the home win at odds of 3/10 and the under 2.5 goals scored at odds of 6/5 (All odds are taken from bet365).