Roberto Mancini’s Euro 2020 winners Italy take on Spain in the semi-final of the UEFA Nations League. Jake Pearson has previewed the match, picking out his best bet.
1pt Both Teams To Score ‘NO’ at 10/11 (BetVictor)
The Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, also known as the San Siro, will play host to the first of the UEFA Nations League semi-finals, and it will give the Milanese public a first opportunity to see their new heroes up close.
Italy have emerged as arguably the best international team on the planet over the last year or so, Roberto Mancini taking over a team at an all-time-low, having failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, and transforming them into an unstoppable juggernaut.
Italy are undoubtedly the team to beat at the moment, though their opponents Spain arguably came closest to doing just that when the sides met at the Euros.
The semi-final held at Wembley was an absorbing contest, Italy everybody’s fancy prior to kick off as Spain had performed indifferently throughout the competition, but it was the Spaniards who dominated the game, creating far more chances than the Azzurri and ultimately being unlucky to lose on penalties.
Luis Enrique’s side will be out for vengeance after that defeat, but post-Euro results have been hit-and-miss for the Spanish, winning a couple of routine World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Kosovo, but also losing to Sweden in the last international break.
Enrique also has a few injury worries ahead of this fixture, with forward players Alvaro Morata, Gerard Moreno and Dani Olmo all ruled out, leaving Spain without a recognised striker in their squad – Ferran Torres or Mikel Oyarzabal likely to be deployed as a false nine.
Pedri, named the best young player at Euro 2020, has been included in the squad, but according to reports in Spain he is not fit after leaving the pitch with a thigh injury during Barcelona’s 3-0 defeat to Benfica.
Without Pedri Spain lose a huge amount of creativity, and it is difficult to see Enrique’s men causing Italy too many problems.
During Italy’s record breaking unbeaten run, they have conceded just 11 goals (12 if including extra time), keeping 25 clean sheets. Safe to say, they can defend.
Mancini has selected more or less the same squad for this international break as he did for the Euros, which demonstrates just how seriously he is taking the latter stages of this competition.
Even with their strongest XI however, Italy are hardly the most attack-minded outfit, and in fact, they have scored more than one goal in 90 minutes in just two of their last eight matches.
They failed to score against Switzerland in their recent World Cup qualifier, and against a possession-heavy Spain side, they could struggle in attack once again.
Interestingly, Under 2.5 Goals was initially priced up at 10/11 in places, but has been heavily backed and is now a general 4/6 shot, meaning the shrewdest of punters believe this will not be a goal-laden game.
Backing ‘unders’ at that price offers no value though, particularly now the price has gone, but it makes the 10/11 available about BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE ‘NO’ of definite interest.
Of course, it is not the same bet, as a 1-1 draw would land in one but not in the other, but given how the market has favoured a lack of goals in this match, it is almost counterintuitive that BTTS ‘NO’ has not shortened.
Score prediction: Italy 1-0 Spain (Sky Bet odds: 11/2)
Odds correct at 1400 BST (04/10/21)
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