Italy vs Albania
World Cup Qualifiers Group Stage
Today, 19:45 (GMT)
Renzo Barbera, Palermo
Italy will look to keep up the pressure on Spain at the summit of Group G in the UEFA World Cup 2018 qualifying campaign with a routine home win over Albania.
The Italians have kicked on since the loss of head coach Antonio Conte, who went off to manage Chelsea of course, and remain unbeaten in four qualifiers to date, with a draw against Spain backed by comfortable victories over Israel, Macedonia and Liechtenstein. They trail the Spaniards by goal difference only, and a heavy win here could well see them leapfrog their rivals into top spot.
So are we looking at a standard home win for Italy here?
1. The Bookies Choice
The Albanians will be looking to build on their performances at Euro 2016, which was the first major tournament they have ever featured in. Their World Cup 2018 campaign has gotten off to a so-so start – victories over Macedonia and Liechtenstein, defeats to Israel and Spain – and so much work is required if they are to qualify for a second successive summer tournament.
Given the form and the pedigree of the two teams, Italy’s short price of 1.20 to win this game with bet365 is wholly fair, if not great value.
The underdogs Albania, at 15.00, are an accurate representation of their abilities at present, while there may well be some temptation in backing the draw at 6.25.
2. Italy vs Albania Betting Tips
What is noticeable about this new Italy side in the post-Conte years is that they have continued their vigour in front of goal, notching eleven goals in their four qualifiers to date. That thirst for goals is important against opponents like Albania, who will be stubborn, well organised and difficult to break down. In other circumstances, they would be confident of grinding out a result.
But the Italians’ renewed confidence in front of their own supporters should prove definitive, and it is hard to see how an Albania team that was defeated convincingly in Israel can do the job in Italy.
The hosts love playing in front of their passionate fans at the Stadio Olimpico, and it is a wonderful theatre for the beautiful game to be played out in. In front of such fervent support the atmosphere is often intimidating; is it any wonder that the Italians last lost a qualifier of any description (European Championship or World Cup) on home soil in 1999!
Yes, you read that correctly. It’s nearly 20 years since the Italians lost a qualification match in their own country; a run that extends to W33 D7 L0. As such, it would take something remarkable for anybody to beat them – let alone little old Albania.
The Albanian’s away record in Euro/World Cup qualifiers? Not too shabby actually at W5 D5 L10, with a memorable 1-0 win in Portugal during Euro 2016 qualification. But moments like that are few and far between, and generally when they play strong sides they suffer comfortable defeats.
So, backing Italy with a -1 handicap at 1.66 has to be the betting play here.
Want the best odds for World Cup 2018 betting and free cash? Sign up to bet 365 using our promo code JBVIP. You’ll get both!
Tags: Italy vs Albania predictions, UEFA World Cup 2018 qualifiers, group G, Italy vs Albania betting tips, odds, preview, live betting, h2h.