Football Tips

Italy v Northern Ireland: Mancini's men to get off to a flyer

Italy manager - Roberto Mancini
Roberto Mancini will be hoping to turn his team into live contenders for Qatar 2022

In Italy’s last four at home, they have scored six against Moldova and four against Estonia.

Back Any Other Home Win @ 4.03/1

Northern Ireland begin their qualifying attempt for Qatar 2022 on Thursday and Paul Robinson believes that they will find it extremely tough in Italy.

Italy v Northern Ireland
Thursday 25 March, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports

Italian re-build on track

The Italians have come a long way since missing out on the 2018 World Cup in Russia. They were beaten by Sweden in a Play-off on that occasion, but four years on they are expected to get through this group as winners.

The first hurdle that Roberto Mancini's men need to negotiate is Northern Ireland. The Irish are probably the third best team in Group C, so three points against them in their opening game would be a great start.

Mancini is taking no chances with his squad as he has picked a large one, including debuts for Matteo Ricci and Rafael Toloi. Several Inter Milan players have also been called up, but they are waiting on negative Covid tests before their club allow them to join up.

Norn on the decline

Ian Baraclough hasn't made the most auspicious start as Northern Ireland manager. His team were beaten by Slovakia in a Play-off for this summer's Euros, and in the Nations League they finished bottom with just two points from a possible 18.

All roads now lead to Qatar for Baraclough and his players, but they have a tough task on their hands given that they have been drawn with Italy and Switzerland.

This match in Parma is undoubtedly the toughest that they will face, so it's probably no bad thing to get it out of the way early. Striker, Conor Washington, is out through injury, but Jonny Evans should be fit, and his experience will be vital.

Invest in a big home win

It is no surprise that the Italians are a very short price at 1.171/6 for the win. Mancini has only lost two of his 27 matches in charge of the national team, with 18 of the other 25 being victories.

If this was Michael O'Neill's Norther Ireland, you could maybe make a case for the draw at 8.615/2, or even a back to lay on them winning at a massive 30.029/1. I just don't think that they are the same side under Baraclough though, and his record as manager is played eight, won none, drawn three and lost five.

Clearly I am not going to tip a home win at 1.171/6, but I do like the look of Any Other Home Win in the Correct Score Market. That bet entails Italy to win and score at least four goals - it doesn't matter how many NI score as long as those two criteria are met. It is currently trading at around the 4.03/1 mark on the Betfair Exchange, and it certainly has some mileage at that price.

Goals expected in Parma

Given my previous recommendation, it shouldn't come as a shock that I like Over 2.5 Goals at 1.84/5. The Under is 2.26/5, but I definitely feel that there will be at least three goals in this game.

In Italy's last four at home, they have scored six against Moldova and four against Estonia. They drew 1-1 with Holland and beat Poland 2-0 - both of which are much better sides than the Irish.

The visitors haven't kept a clean sheet since November 2019, and the 5-1 drubbing they received at the hands of Norway in September 2020 is fresh in my mind.

Recommended bets

2020/21 P/L (1pt each bet)

Wagered: 52pts
Returned: 58.25pts
P/L: +6.25pts

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