Pirlo-less Italy to gain confidence against bland Switzerland
Switzerland v Italy, kick-off Saturday 7.45pm
A surprise 2-1 defeat to an energetic Mexico side two days ago brought to an end a 14-game unbeaten run for Marcello Lippi’s reigning World Champions.
So the Azzuri will be looking to take advantage of a slower-paced Switzerland team to restore some confidence before the defence of their crown starts on June 14th.
Expect goals to be in short supply though. Only once during that run of matches without a loss did Italy manage more than two goals in a game – and that was the three they bagged against lowly Cyprus.
Similarly, Switzerland have only netted once in their last four outings, and in their most recent match lost 1-0 to Costa Rica. Indeed, in a friendly just last year, Italy and Switzerland played out a dour 0-0 draw.
The same result tonight is an intriguing 5/1 shout but expect an Italy team full of nous to squeak through this time – a 1-0 score line is a tempting 6/1 price. Throw in an Alberto Gilardino first goal and the odds shoot to 18/1.
Key creative presence Andrea Pirlo will be out of the game though, and is a doubt for the entire tournament.
The 31-year-old will travel with the squad today but a calf injury means he will almost certainly be unavailable for Italy’s opening game against Paraguay on June 14th.
That match could well decide the course of Group F and without their midfield string puller, Italy could wilt. They are a generous 3/1 to lose the match against the South Americans.
Will the match be an unexpected goal-fest? See the full Switzerland v Italy betting market.