BETTING & MATCH PREVIEW
On Thursday night, European champions Italy hosts North Macedonia in the World Cup play-off semi-finals. The home team are big favourites to progress to the final.
Rather surprisingly, the Azzurri finished second in their group to Switzerland, who book their automatic place at Qatar 2022 by picking up two more points than the home European champions.
Italy were unbeaten in their eight group games, but the problem was that four of those group games finished in draws, including both meetings with Switzerland, which proved decisive in deciding who took the automatic qualification spot.
Roberto Mancini’s team has lost just one of their last 13 outings in World Cup qualifying. Italy have also kept clean sheets in seven of their last nine matches in qualifiers.
The visitors were one of the surprise packages of the group stages, as they finished second to Germany in Group J of qualifying. They lost just two of their ten qualifiers, one in Romania and one at home against Germany. However, they did record a famous away win in Germany, beating the Mannschaft 2-1.
North Macedonia have proven difficult opponents in World Cup qualifying of late, as those previously mentioned defeats were their only losses in 14 qualifiers.
The visitors are unbeaten in their last four away games in World Cup qualifiers, having recorded three wins in the process. They have also lost just one of their last eight away matches in qualifying.
Italy vs North Macedonia Team News
Italy will be without Giovanni Di Lorenzo through injury, while fellow defender Leonardo Bonucci is also an injury doubt. North Macedonia have seen veteran forward Adis Jahovic withdraw from the squad, but should have everybody else available to feature.
Italy vs North Macedonia Match Prediction
The Azzurri were less than convincing in qualifying, while North Macedonia impressed. We believe this will be a close, low-scoring game with Italy the likely winners.
PREDICTION – HOME WIN
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Odds correct at time of publication – please check with your bookmaker before placing a bet as fluctuations can occur.