Back in November 2017, Italy spectacularly fluffed their lines when accorded a chance to book their spot at the 2018 FIFA World Cup as Sweden scraped past them. Consequently, the Azzurri missed the biggest footballing extravaganza on the planet, an event they painfully had to watch from the side-lines.
Inevitably, Italy underwent wholesale changes and it started with the sacking of Gian Piero Ventura. Thereafter, they dug deep into their managerial reserves and unfurled Roberto Mancini, an astute tactician who had distinguished himself across the globe.
Subsequently, the Azzurri began traversing a slightly different route, with respect to its brand of football. Though the dogged defensive determination remained, Mancini brought with himself ideas of a more expansive style, one that he has been able to implement courtesy the resources at his disposal.
In the process, Italy have perched themselves atop Group J of the Euro 2020 qualifiers and are within touching distance of qualifying for the multi-nation tournament next summer.
More impressively though, they’ve completely bought into Mancini’s philosophy of blending style with substance, having scored 18 goals in 6 encounters.
Thus, when they take the field against Greece at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday, most would be expecting a routine victory. Yet, as Italy and perhaps the rest of the continent would testify, one should underestimate Greece only at their own peril.
The perennial underdogs have often exceeded expectations, especially when the odds seem to be stacked against them. Hence, they would relish the opportunity to stride out under Roman skies, hoping for another major scalp.
Consequently, the stage is set for a titanic and tense encounter at one of the most picturesque venues in Europe, where both teams know that an unfavourable result could have massive implications.
Date: 12th October 2019
Time: 08:45 pm (Local Time); 12:15 am IST on the 13th of October, 2019
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Head to Head Record
Total Matches Played: 10 matches
Italy: 6 wins
Greece: 1 win
Draw: 3 draws
Form Guide (Last five matches; Most recent first)
Player to watch out for
Marco Verratti has been the heartbeat of the new-look Italian side and he has helped Mancini ingrain his system on the team. Blessed with exemplary vision, the midfielder is an extremely talented individual in the middle of the park and never gives the ball away.
Moreover, he has begun the season in fine fashion, spearheading Paris Saint-Germain’s charge in the Champions League and Ligue 1.
Thus, alongside his partner-in-crime, Jorginho, Verratti would be expected to provide the offensive thrust against a Greece outfit that would be content on defending deep and minimising spaces between the lines.
Italy win: 1.14
Greece win: 15.00
Bookmaker: SportsbetPublished 11 Oct 2019, 18:33 IST