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North Macedonia v Italy: Back Spalletti to make perfect start

Italy coach Luciano Spalletti
Luciano Spalletti is the new manager of Italy

After securing five winners from five selections, Kevin Hatchard's taking us to North Macedonia for Italy's first game of a new era.


North Macedonia v Italy
Saturday 09 September, 19:45
Live on ViaPlay

Spain delivered for us in style last night, as they thrashed Georgia 7-1. Our man Dani Olmo netted one of the goals, nailing down out Bet Builder and keeping alive our hopes of a perfect week.

We'll stick with the Euro 2024 qualifiers, because Italy take on the team that cost them their World Cup dream, as they once again face North Macedonia. Roberto Mancini's Azzurri lost a playoff 1-0 at home to North Macedonia in March 2002, a game that saw Italy miss a boatload of chances before falling victim to a late sucker punch.

Mancini has recently departed, chasing the golden ticket all the way to Saudi Arabia. That defection went down like a lead balloon, even though Mancini had credit in the bank from winning the Euros. His replacement Luciano Spalletti cut short his sabbatical to take what he has described as his dream job, and his stock his high after leading Napoli to the Scudetto last season.

Italy certainly need the win. They lost home to England in their opener, but then recovered with a 2-0 win in Malta. Spalletti has wasted no time in putting his stamp on things, dropping Moise Kean, Gianluca Scamacca, Jorginho and Marco Verratti on account of their relative lack of game time.

North Macedonia have had some incredible results, beating Germany and Italy in recent qualifying campaigns, but they seem to be on the wane. They were shredded 7-0 by England and lost 3-2 at home to Ukraine. They have lost seven of their last 11 internationals.

I'm happy to keep this simple, and back Italy -1.5 on the Asian Handicap at 1.9720/21. I think Spalletti's arrival will give the team a real boost, and North Macedonia have been conceding plenty of goals in these qualifiers, even failing to keep a clean sheet against perennial strugglers Malta.

Back Italy -1.5 on the Asian Handicap at 1.97

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