Mark O’Haire’s Football Tips – Italy v Scotland
Italy step up their preparations for Euro 2016 with a friendly against Scotland on Sunday night from the Ta’ Qali National Stadium in Malta, where the Scots are in the midst of a training camp.
Italy v Scotland, Sunday 29th May 2016 (19.45), Premier Sports
Eager to end what will be a 20-year wait for a major tournament when the 2018 World Cup rolls around, Gordon Strachan’s desperate to get his side firing in time for September’s qualifiers and he’ll be keen to build on recent progress.
The Tartan Army have shown no ill-effects from their failure to make Euro 2016 this summer as they have beaten the Czech Republic and Denmark in friendlies since qualifying concluded.
A poor record against the Italians (W1-D2-L7) is tempered by the fact the two nations haven’t met since 2007, and even more so when studying the Azzurri’s record in non-competitive matches.
Incredibly, Italy have only W3-D10-L10 in their past 23 friendly fixtures with Antonio Conte’s men winless in four meaningless matches since qualifying for the Euros ended. Of those three victories, all came on home soil with two arriving against minnows San Marino and Albania.
The Azzurri will raise their game with a major tournament on the horizon, right? Well, they lost to Mexico and drew with Switzerland in the build-up to the 2010 World Cup, lost 3-0 to Russia when preparing for Euro 2012 and could only draw with Ireland and Luxembourg prior to the 2014 World Cup.
In contrast, Scotland have an excellent record in non-competitive internationals of late (W9-D2-L2) with seven of those nine successes arriving by a 1-0 correct score. A repeat on Sunday night is as big as 10/1 and shouldn’t be ignored.
Italy are preparing for the Euros without their two star midfielders – Claudio Marchisio and Marco Verratti – and the defensive discipline instilled by Strachan with Scotland should stand the outsiders in good stead.
The Azzurri have netted more than once in just two of their last 15 friendlies outside their home country so…
backing Scotland or Draw in the Double Chance is recommended at 21/20 with change being chucked on the 1-0 correct score Scottish win.
Scotland double chance (21/20)
Scotland to win 1-0 (10/1)
*Prices correct at time of publication.