Sweden v Italy Predictions, Betting Tips and Previews

TURIN, ITALY - JANUARY 16:  Andrea Belotti of FC Torino celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Serie A match between FC Torino and AC Milan at Stadio Olimpico di Torino on January 16, 2017 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
TURIN, ITALY – JANUARY 16: Andrea Belotti of FC Torino celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Serie A match between FC Torino and AC Milan at Stadio Olimpico di Torino on January 16, 2017 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
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Friends Arena – World Cup Play-Off

There’s no love lost between Sweden and Italy so this World Cup qualifier will have an extra edge. The rivalry stems from Euro 2004 when the Italians believed the Swedes concocted a 2-2 draw with fellow Scandinavians Denmark to try and eliminate the Azzurri.

Past Meetings

Italy are unbeaten against Sweden since 1998 and it is 30 years since the Swedes defeated Italy in a competitive game. At Euro 2016 Italy won a group game 1-0.

The two-legged Play-off will be the 23rd and 24th meetings of the nations. Italy have won 10 of the previous meetings to Sweden’s six with six draws. This double-header will come exactly 93 years since the initial meeting which was a 2-2 draw in Milan.

Team News

Giampiero Ventura has recalled Napoli playmaker Jorginho, Roma midfielder Allesandro Florenzi and Valencia striker Simone Zaza to his 27 man Italy squad. Ex-West Ham man Zaza has played for his country just once since a woeful penalty miss in the Euro 2016 quarter final against Germany.

Janne Andersson’s Sweden were unbeaten at home in the group stage and showed their capability by beating France. Andersson’s 25 man squad includes Seattle Sounders 30 year old midfielder Gustav Svensson, Leeds United defender Pontus Jansson and Hull City set-piece specialist Seb Larsson but Sweden have Mikael Lustig suspended for the first leg with Albin Ekdal doubtful. Bologna duo Filip Helander and Emil Krafth will be under particular pressure.

Sweden v Italy Preview and Predictions

Sweden are 9/2 to win the first leg with Italy 16/11 and the draw priced at 3/1

Italy are the only former World Cup winners still to qualify and surely they will have too much nous and big game experience for Sweden but Sweden are determined to prove that even without Zlatan Ibrahimovic they can succeed.

Only needing to avoid a massive defeat away to Netherlands in their final group game, Sweden settled for a 2-0 reverse. Prior to that they had kept back to back clean sheets and scored 17 goals in their previous five fixtures. Their 26 goals in total were more than any other team in the Play offs. Marcus Berg is their top scorer with eight goals and is 6/1 for the first goal.

Italy are struggling for goals. Their last three games against Albania, Macedonia and Israel have brought just one goal in each. However their opponents struggle even more for goals against the Azzurri. Their last six games have seen Gianluigi Buffon and co keep four clean sheets and concede just a single goal against Macedonia.

Only in their 3-0 defeat away to Spain in September were they found wanting but that was Italy’s solitary loss in their last 56 qualifying games spread over 11 years. Ciro Immobile is their top scorer with six goals and is 5/1 for the first goal.

Recommended Bets

The match to be drawn 1-1 at 11/2

A draw would suit Italy and it is likely to be a low scoring game. Most of free scoring Sweden’s games have been against minnows but Italy will keep things tight.

Andrea Belotti to open the scoring at 5/1

The highly-rated Torino man is not enjoying as successful a season as last term but this is the perfect stage for him to impress those ready to pay big money for him in January.