Italy have been involved in every World Cup in the last 59 years, but they are in very real danger of missing our on Russia 2018 after their flat and lifeless display on the outskirts of Stockholm on Friday.
The well drilled Sweden side, who seem to have grown amongst themselves since dealing with the retirement of talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, contained their visitors’ attacks rather easily in truth and picked up a second half goal to give themselves a crucial 1-0 aggregate lead. However, things with be much tougher away from home.
Italy’s form may not look the best, with two wins from their last five games, but on home soil they have been much more confident. They have won five of their last six on Italian soil, only failing to beat Macedonia and winning all five of these games without conceding.
Sweden’s overall form is similar to Italy’s, and whilst they know that an away goal would leave Italy needing three to qualify I think it’s unlikely that the visitors will try to attack too much on Monday. Rather, they will try to contain their illustrious hosts yet again, but could well find it more difficult away from Stockholm.
On the road Sweden have won three, drawn one, and lost three of their six games in the post-Zlatan era. Admittedly they have performed better than anybody could have predicted, but we’re expecting their journey to come to an end on Monday.
Italy are a team who thrive under pressure, something which was evident in Euro 2016. They entered the tournament having received no pre-tournament hype but instantly became one of the favourites. They eventually lost to Germany, but make no mistake that this team have the nerve to reverse this deficit.
That will start at the back, and with just a talented back line and Gianluigi Buffon as goalkeeper you would back them to keep a clean sheet here. Italy to Win to Nil looks a great value bet, along with a 2-0 correct score predictions.