Italy -1 Asian Handicap @ 1.93 with Pinnacle - 2 units (min 1.87)
- Italy were perfect in qualification, picking up 9 points against teams that I'd rank better than Austria in the defensive 3rd (Wales, Switzerland, and Turkey)
- In all three games, teams took up a defensive approach, and none had an answer. Italy averaged 17.33 attempts per game with 1.85 xG per 90. At the back, they have allowed just three shots on target.
- Currently, they rank 3rd best in the competition for their xG difference per 90, only the Netherlands and Spain have been better.
- Italy rotated their best XI for the final group game with Wales and will be fully recovered except for Chiellini and Florenzi.
- Italy should benefit from fans not being allowed to travel to England. I can't be 100% sure, but if I had to guess, there will be more Italian support in the stands. From the most recent statistics I can find about 100-150k Italian citizens living in London alone.
- There are no holes in this Italian team, and most importantly, they're functioning as a team and seem to be enjoying their football.
- Under Mancini, Italy have faced ten teams inside the current FIFA Top 30 (Turkey, Wales, Switzerland, Poland x3, Netherlands x2, and Portugal x2) - won 50%
- 3 of the 5 games they failed to win came in 2018 while Mancini was still trying to find his best team/system, so we can't be too hard on them there
- They had a 0-0 with Poland in Gdańsk and although they were the better side, they started with Pellegrini - Belotti- Chiesa in attack.
- In the 1-1 with the Dutch, they were arguably 2nd best, but that's not a result that should worry us here.
- Austria ran out 1-0 winners over Ukraine in their final group game which sealed qualification. Prior to that game they looked poor, even in their win over Macedonia
- The Ukraine game was peculiar, Ukraine genuinely didn't look interested, Did they purposely want to avoid Italy in the 2nd round? we'll never know.
- Austria got played off the park in their match with the Netherlands and I expect something quite similar here, like the Dutch, the Italian midfield are almost impeccable at resisting the press so I don't see Austria's aggressive press having the impact they hope it will.
- Unlike Italy, Austria didn't have the luxury to rotate in their final group game, they also had players pick up some knocks. Lazaro won't be available while Hinteregger (CB) and Grillitsch (CM) were training individually but are expected to be available.
- We can expect David Alaba to be used as a CB in this game with Austria lining up in a 5-3-2, the Austrian Coach Franco Foda is not the most risk averse so don't expect an attacking display.
- In EC qualification Austria had a fairly easy group with Poland being the only test in the group. Austria took 1 point from the two games but overall were evenly matched.
- In Foda's time in charge (4 years) they've only played one competitive match against a team in the FIFA Top 20, that came against Denmark, a game they lost 4-0
Final word: Austria will play defensive but I have real concerns over their CB's (Hinteregger/Dragović) as well as their GK (Bachmann). At worst Italy will win this by a goal