Italy make the trip to the Olympiako Stadio Spyros Louis on Saturday night as they face off against Greece in Group J of the Euro 2020 qualifiers. Both these sides will be quite content with their respective starts to the qualifying campaign, with the visitors top of the pile on six points having won both of the opening clashes, while the hosts are in second after playing out one draw and winning once, putting them ahead of Bosnia and Herzegovina on goal difference. Victory for Roberto Mancini’s men could see them go five points clear at the summit of the table, whereas three points for the Greeks could allow them to overtake Italy and hold the number one spot. This will be the first time the pair have ever faced one another so it will definitely be an interesting affair as the Italians look to recreate former glory of yesteryear and the hosts aim to take part in Europe’s top international tournament once again.
After a rather disappointing Uefa Nations League tournament, in which Greece finished second from bottom ahead of only Estonia, they have since managed to find just one win in the three outings they’ve played since. That sole victory came away from home when they met Liechtenstein by two goals to nil thanks to one goal towards the end of either half, however the next matchup came as a stalemate in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Those encounters took place in March, and in an attempt to gel the team and regain fitness, Greece visited Turkey where they were defeated 2-1 in the penultimate day of May. This leaves Greece with only one win in their last four matches and a lot of work to do if they wish to hold second spot on the Group J standings. Even before these last few results, Greece found it difficult to gather any sort of rhythm or form, following each win with a defeat for six games up until March. They will need to be on top of their game if they want to come away from this one unharmed, and hope that the Italians are not quite at their very best.
Italy will be brimming with confidence going into this one as they haven’t been beaten since September, when Portugal came away with a 1-0 victory in the Uefa Nations League. Since then, Italy have drawn twice and ran out victorious four times, keeping a clean sheet in each of their last five outings and scoring a total of ten goals in the process. The Euro 2020 qualifiers simply could not have started any better for the Italians with victories against Finland by two goals to nil and a thrashing of Liechtenstein by six goals to nil helped put them firmly at the top of the table after two matches played. Although this form is positive, Italy cannot afford to become complacent with the memories of missing out on last summer’s World Cup still fresh in the minds of a nation that expects so much from their football team. This team is different, with played like Moise Kean and Lorenzo Pellegrini bursting onto the scene and more than pulling their weight for their clubs, Juventus and Roma. This is a chance to gather confidence and prepare for what will be a hugely important tournament for the entire country next summer.
Greece have played away from home three times in a row, and in each of those games they started with a back four. In their last home game, against Estonia, Greece lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation however they have since not set out in that way. It is most probable that Greece will prefer a defensive shape with plenty of cover against Italy’s quick forwards, looking to hit their opponents with set pieces. Greece don’t have any real injury concerns ahead of this clash.
Mancini is drilling a 4-3-3 formation into his Italy side, with his side not swaying from that set-up since last year. It has come to fruition in recent matches against Liechtenstein and Finland, so more of the same can absolutely be expected from this clash. Winger Matteo Politano was forced to pull out of the Italy squad due to an ankle injury, and Juventus full-back Leonardo Spinazzola has been forced to exit the camp after picking up an injury.
BTTS at 11/8 with Skybet – Greece have scored in four of their last five outings despite not being in the best of form, while the Italians have bagged at least once in five of their last six matches in all competitions. Despite Italy’s solid defensive structure, Greece have looked very dangerous at times and could be the first team to score against their opponents since October.
Moise Kean to score anytime at 6/1 with Skybet – Kean has scored in each of his team’s first two opening Euro 2020 qualifiers against Finland and Liechtenstein and will be looking to exploit the obvious weaknesses that are present in the Greece defence.