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Italy vs North Macedonia in the FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Play-Offs on March 24, 2022 – Odds & Prediction

Italy vs North Macedonia in the FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Play-Offs on March 24, 2022 – Odds & Prediction

Despite securing European Championship success last summer, Italy face a route through the Playoffs once again to secure a place at the FIFA World Cup later this year.

Roberto Mancini’s side finished second in Group C, two points adrift of Switzerland, having drawn four of their eight qualifying games.

With the winners going on to face either Portugal or Turkey, it remains to be seen if the current kings of Europe will be in Qatar in November, as they fell in the Playoffs back in 2018 in an upset at home to Sweden.

As for North Macedonia, they finished as runners-up in Group J behind only Germany and ahead of the likes of Romania and Iceland.

After making their first finals at Euro 2020, they’ll be looking to build on that achievement in what could prove to be a golden era in their footballing history.

Continue reading for our expert football betting tips for the clash.

MarketPrediction
Wining MarginItaly to win by 2 Goals
bet365
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Italy to win by Exactly 2 goals

Italy stumbled their way to the end of qualifying with back-to-back draws with Switzerland and Northern Ireland, so that will have surely eroded some confidence in the group.

Prior to that they suffered defeat in the UEFA Nations League semi-final, so there will be real disappointment with how they’ve fared since Euro 2020.

Nevertheless, they didn’t suffer a single defeat in their qualifying campaign and conceded just two goals in eight games. That defensive solidity makes this especially hard for North Macedonia to prevail, and so it could be a game that the Azzurri dominate.

We like the odds of 11/4 (SportNation) – available as well with all of the reliable bookmakers – for Italy to win by Exactly 2 goals as they should make this relatively comfortable.

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Italy Form, squad news, opinion

As noted above, Italy’s form was shaky at the back end of last year, so they’ll hope that they’ve put that firmly behind them ahead of a crucial week.

Many of the heroes of Wembley last summer remain in Mancini’s plans, and there’s a good mix of experience and youth in the current group.

With Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Chiesa likely to provide threats out wide, Jorginho will run things in midfield, while experienced stalwarts like Leonardo Bonucci will lead from the defence.

It’s a top-class side, one that on paper should get past North Macedonia and take a step closer to reaching the World Cup.

North Macedonia form, squad news, opinion

With just two defeats in qualifying, North Macedonia put together an impressive campaign to build off the back of their appearance at the European Championship.

A heavy loss to Germany aside, they’ve won three and drawn two in their last six outings in competitive football, scoring 14 goals and conceding just three in the process.

Elif Elmas, who plies his club footballing trade at Napoli, will be a pivotal figure in this showdown, while boss Igor Angelovski will be desperate to have his best available side from qualifying at his disposal.

History

Italy have faced North Macedonia on two previous occasions, securing a 3-2 win in Skopje in 2016, while the two nations played out a 1-1 draw in Turin a year later.

There’s not much to go on in terms of a head-to-head record, but they will undoubtedly go into this one hoping to put another mark in the win column for future reference.

About the Venue

Italy opted to play this away from the more traditional settings of Rome and Milan and will host North Macedonia at the Stadio Renzo Barbera in Palermo instead, with Mancini noting it takes a bit of the pressure away from the situation for the hosts.

A stadium that holds just over 36,000, it will be a difficult place to go for the visitors should it be a full house, as it can produce a lively atmosphere.

Conclusion

Despite North Macedonia’s impressive qualifying campaign and the strong team spirit that they’ve built, Italy have more quality in their side, which tends to make the difference in big games like this one.

The pain of not qualifying in 2018 will still be felt in this Azzurri squad, and they will be desperate to not only avoid a repeat scenario, but also to build on their success last summer and put themselves in contention to add another World Cup to their trophy collection too.

It promises to be a difficult ask to breach their defence, while they have firepower in the side to make it relatively comfortable and so a two-goal cushion is certainly in play here.

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