INTERNATIONAL football expert Ben Levene (@benlevene96) shares his betting thoughts on Friday night's Nations League clash between Italy and Poland.
Italy v Poland | Friday 7th September 2018, 19:45 | Sky Sports
Brazil are the only nation to have won more World Cups than Italy’s four, so the Gli Azzurri’s recent demise is baffling. Italy boast a fantastic football heritage and in spite of that they’ve failed to get beyond the group at a World Cup since winning it in 2006, failing to qualify last summer.
It’s a rebuilding period for Italy and Roberto Mancini is the man tasked with orchestrating it – he’s certainly more exciting than his predecessor, Gian Piero Ventura.
Icon Gianluigi Buffon has retired, but the solid centre-back duo of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci remain. The new guard is really taking shape further up the pitch, at the base of midfielder Chelsea-man Jorginho will likely be a mainstay for years to come.
In attack, a frontline featuring the likes of Lorenzo Insigne, Ciro Immobile and Fernando Bernadeschi is exciting.
We can expect the Italians to be positive in possession and attack with real intent.
Friday’s opponents, Poland, are themselves at a crossroads. There has been a massive overreliance on Robert Lewandowski for a number of years but when he’s suffocated of service, Poland look flat. That was the case at the World Cup when the Eagles finished bottom of a winnable group.
There has since been a managerial change, with Jerzy Brzeczek coming in.
We’ve already spoken of Lewandowski’s influence for Poland and if anyone is adept at shutting him out, it’s the experienced Italian centre-back pairing.
They Azzuri will likely dominate the game and have the attacking quality and variety to cause problems for this Polish backline.
There’s limited access to information when it comes to international football and it’s silly to read too much into games played months ago. The Nations League is unchartered territory and so I don’t want to overcomplicate things.
An Italy win is 3/4 (Bet365) and that’s where I’m happy to tie my money down.
Italy v Poland – Italy to win (3/4 Bet365)