Italy v Northern Ireland
THU 25 MAR 2021 – KO 19:45
BETTING & MATCH PREVIEW
On Thursday night, Italy kick-off their attempt to qualify for Qatar 2022 when they welcome Northern Ireland to the Stadio Tardini for their first game in Group C of qualifying.
Roberto Mancini’s team are big favourites to win their group and will be confident of making a winning start in Group C. The Azzurri’s recent form has been good, as the home team heads into this game on the back of a 22-game unbeaten run. A 2-0 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina last time out means that Italy have won their last three international matches, without conceding a goal.
Surprisingly, Italy have a patchy recent record in World Cup qualifying, having won two of their last six qualifiers, including just one win in their last four qualifiers.
The visitor’s form has been poor of late, as Ian Baraclough’s team has won just one of their last ten international matches. The visitors lost their last three games in the Nations League while suffering an extra-time defeat against Slovakia in the play-offs for Euro 2021.
Northern Ireland’s recent record in qualifying for the World Cup is not great, as they have failed to win any of their last four qualifiers, having suffered three defeats in the process. The fact that they have failed to score in their last three qualifiers has hindered their chances of picking up results.
The visitors have a mixed recent away record in qualifying for the World Cup. However, they have won just two of their last 12 qualifiers on their travels.
Italy are without midfielder Bryan Cristante through injury. Meanwhile, Nicolo Barella, Alessandro Bastoni and Stefano Sensi will not feature because COVID-19 has hit Inter and their whole squad is in self-isolation. Lorenzo Pellegrini is also a fitness doubt.
Connor Washington has withdrawn from the Northern Ireland squad through injury. The forward has been replaced by Shayne Lavery.