Next up for the World Cup Qualifiers is the First Leg Playoff between Sweden and Italy.
At ProTipster Towers we’re all predicting a tight match again so ProTipster Paddy is on the case and bringing you more stats-backed bets.
Janne Andersson’s Blågult welcome the Azzurri to the unfortunately-named Friends Arena in what will surely not be a friendly encounter.
World Cup Qualifiers
On paper Sweden look to have done well to get into the qualifiers, they finished behind France and ahead of the Netherlands to get into the Playoffs. But, of course, the Netherlands had a bad campaign, losing twice to France and surprisingly to Bulgaria. Sweden though look a different team to the coma-inducing one that played in the Euros in France where they only managed to chalk up one point. You can thank Ireland’s Ciaran Clark for that, an own goal that he scored in Paris gave Sweden their only goal of the tournament.
Gigi Buffon, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellino reuniting the Juventus BBC defence
Sweden’s all-time top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic has retired though and Andersson has put his faith in the emerging youth of the nation. Most of the impressive Under-21s have now graduated to the first team and without having to play to Zlatans’ strengths they’ve developed their own playing style. And quite frankly, it has served them well.
The Swedes won 4/5 of their home matches and drew the other. They netted 18 times at home in the Qualifying Group, they drew with the Netherlands in their first home game and beat France 2-1. Over 2.5 Goals has landed in 4/5 home Sweden games and is available at 2.44 for this game.
It must be mentioned though that 8 of those goals were against Luxembourg, but that still puts their goal ratio at 2.5 per game. Most international managers would kill for that.
Away from home was a different story, they lost to France, Netherlands and Bulgaria as well, conceding 7 in their 5 games. With that in mind this game is a must win for Sweden, they must already know that they’ll be lucky to score against Italy in the return leg.
I just wished I’d back it earlier when it was over 2.0 a few days ago
Gian Piero Ventura’s Italy have been solid, but far from impressive. They lost 0-3 away to Spain and they never really had a chance of catching Spain after that. They just about scraped a 2-3 win away to Macedonia as well and could only get one past both Albania away and Israel at home. You look at the team and their defence is great. Gigi Buffon, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellino reuniting the Juventus BBC defence. Up front they have Ciro Immobile and Andrea Belotti to score goals, but it’s the midfield that’s so un-Italian. It’s more workhorse than flair and without anyone to link up that solid defence with fast attackers the team hasn’t really gelled yet. But, hey, it’s Italy, they never really gel together until a major tournament anyway.
Formwise Italy won 4/5 away matches, they scored 11 in 5, that’s a 2.2 goal average. But 4 of those were against lowly Liechtenstein, so it’s more like 1.75 per game. The Swedes only conceded 2 at home during the group stage, but they were against the Netherlands and France so the Italians will take heart from that. The Italians were quite un-Italian again when we look at their defensive record, they only managed to keep 2/5 clean sheets away from home, against Albania and Liechtenstein. Like Sweden, Overs has also landed in 4/5 Away Italy matches and while it’s a nice price the pressure will be on Sweden to score here, not Italy, and if anyone can defend and keep a scoreline down it’s Italy. Normally here I would back Over 2.5 at 2.44 but I’m leaving that for the more adventurous of you guys.
Our Tip of the Day for this match is Draw at 3.07. With both teams having a scoring average of 2.5 and 1.75 goals per game it’s hard to resist Both Teams to Score at 1.95, I just wished I’d back it earlier when it was over 2.0 a few days ago.