Italy are fancied to get the better of Portugal again
Italy are in a transitional stage and Antonio Conte wouldn’t be the most popular coach ever to lead the Azzurri but, like England, his team are unbeaten since making an early exit from last year’s World Cup and were more than value for a 1-1 draw against Croatia in Split on Friday, even though their hosts’ goalscorer Mario Mandzukic also missed a first-half penalty.
The Italians remain second in their Euro 2016 qualifying group but are still well on course to qualify for the finals in France next year having already played Croatia, who lead the section, twice.
Stephan El Sharaawy impressed for Italy and had a goal controversially ruled out for offside after being set up by Southampton’s Graziano Pelle. It was the latter who scored when his team drew 1-1 with England in their last friendly in Turin and the tall striker is likely to feature again as they meet Portugal at the Stade Geneve in Switzerland before jetting off on their summer holidays, though captain and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is not likely to be risked having picked up an injury in Croatia.
Portugal’s problem is that they rely too heavily on the 30-year-old winger. He’s scored six of his country’s last 10 international goals going back to last year’s World Cup. No other player has scored more than once in that time for Fernando Santos’ team. Though this is only a friendly, the Italians will be well aware that half of the battle is won if they can snuff out his threat and their Juventus contingent did a pretty good job on the winger in the Champions League only last month.
Italy can keep up their remarkable record against Portugal by racking up an 11th consecutive win against Ronaldo and company at 27/20. The Azzurri to win by one in our Winning Margins market is 14/5.
The match kicks off at 7.30pm on Tuesday, June 16 at the Stade Geneve, Switzerland