WHO better to preview the Italy game than our Serie A expert Marco Di Cosmo (@scioltz)?
Bulgaria v Italy | Saturday 19:45 | Sky Sports Interactive
Italy are a different animal under Antonio Conte. The coach is still unbeaten with the Azzurri, having fostered significant improvement since their poor display at the World Cup last year.
Technically speaking, there is much to praise about Conte. He transformed Juventus, taking them from two consecutive 7th places to three straight Serie A titles.
His energetic approach and aggressive football have already impacted well in the national team, as Italy is leading the group with Croatia, having three wins and one draw in four qualifying matches.
To be honest, this team is nowhere near the team that won the World Cup in 2006. Gigi Buffon and Andrea Pirlo are still in team, but their age is clearly an handicap, and Italy are still looking to find big players from the new generation to substitute giants like Francesco Totti or Alessandro Nesta.
The lack of fresh quality in the team is evident when you see they've only scored six goals in four games. On the flip side, the team have only conceded two goals so far. This reflects the intensity and compactness the team have. In my opinion, Italy are not a joy to watch, but they compete, and win.
With this in mind, I see Italy as a team who could always get the better of smaller sides, while suffering against big names such as Spain, France, etc. This is someway what happened to Juventus under Antonio Conte, who literary dismantled any opponent in Serie A, while suffering a lot against UCL teams.
Bulgaria is clearly one of the smaller sides that Conte likes to destroy. This team have only registered a win against Azerbaijan, while losing away to Norway and drawing at home against Malta.
Italy have comfortably won against Norway, who I reckon are a clear better team than the Bulgarians. I expect this to be a tight match, which Italy could win 1-0, or 2-0, but in which Conte can eventually get the job done.
I don't see Italy slipping up here and I'll be backing them to win at 19/20 with Betfred.
Bulgaria v Italy – Italy to win (19/20 Betfred)
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