WILL Italy continue their brilliant form from Monday night? Will Dyer (@w2Dyer) looks at the betting for us.
Italy v Sweden | Friday 14:00 | ITV1
This game sees two teams meet that were at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of their performances in their respective opening games. Italy were sensational against Belgium whilst Sweden were very drab in the Ireland match.
Antonio Conte’s men stopped the Belgians from exploiting their top class midfielders with a performance we aren’t always used to from the Gli Azzuri; high intensity.
Without the likes of Pirlo inmidfield Italy can no longer afford to rest on their laurels in possession. This saw Belgium dominate with 56% of the ball and far more shots but they were restricted to half chances and pops from distance; registering just 2 of 18 shots on target.
If Italy can repeat that feat a few more times in this tournament they can go all the way. It’s going to take more than two shots on target in a game to beat a team with Gianluigi Buffon in goal.
I’m of the firm belief that the Italian defence is the best in this competition. Despite their age, Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli all still possess decent pace and they are formidable opponents even for the most physical of strikers.
Zlatan Ibrahimović is perhaps of a different ilk to Romelu Lukaku and Divock Origi but he does not have the players around him to create chances like Belgium do for their forwards so I expect him to be even more quiet than he was against the Irish.
Sweden didn’t actually manage to warm the hands of Darren Randolph. Ciaran Clark’s dire season capitulated in an own goal in his first tournament game and that meant Sweden were the first team to score a goal in a European Championship game without having a single shot on target since 1980.
This one looks straight forward for Italy then but the money is coming for Sweden and I can’t really see why. There was a lack of excitement surrounding this Italian team pre-tournament due to the absence of big names in the midfield and striker department but the game against Belgium should have quelled any thoughts that the Gli Azzuri were about to make an early exit.
A vast swathe of this Italian squad is an unknown quantity to anyone who turns a blind eye to the Serie A but those that don’t will know that offensively Serie A is in a good place right now and that’s largely down to players like Antonio Candreva, Marco Parolo, Alessandro Florenzi, Eder and Simone Zaza; the likes of which have never played anywhere else.
Sweden are without Mikael Lustig for this game, one of their best defenders, and after their dour performance against the Republic of Ireland I can’t see them getting anywhere in this tie.
Euro 2016 has been a low scoring affair thus far though and without an obvious source of goals I think it’s best to play it safe with the straight Italy win here available at Even money with NetBet.
Italy v Sweden – Italy to win (Evens Netbet)