The final round of the opening Euro 2020 qualifiers get underway with Italy and Spain among those featuring in the action. Both will have their eyes on the final at Wembley next year.
Italy vs Finland
Italy welcome Finland to Stadio Friuli in Udine defending an unbeaten record in this fixture. The Azzurri have 11 wins out of the 12 meetings, winning the last seven and conceding one goal along the way.
The home side are unbeaten in four (W2, D2) but haven’t scored more than one goal in the last eight. Indeed, only the 3 – 1 defeat to France saw over 2.5 goals; is this the match to end that run?
That may prove a false hope; Finland haven’t seen over 2.5 goals in a first-class international in almost a year. Even more bizarrely, the Finns haven’t been involved in a match where both sides scored since October 2017.
They come into this game off the back of two consecutive defeats but previously won four on the spin.
Neither side has any fresh injury concerns following the announcement of their squads. However, the absence of Lorenzo Insigne will be a blow to the Azzurri.
Nonetheless, this is as straightforward a fixture as Roberto Mancini could have wished for to kick-off the Euro2020 campaign and it’s hard to see Italy struggling to win this.
Spain vs Norway
Spain kick-off their Euro2020 campaign with arguably their toughest opponents in the group, Norway. La Furia Roja will hope for a repeat of the result in their last match held in the cauldron of La Mestalla, Valencia when they beat Macedonia 5 – 1 in the opening qualifying match for Euro2016.
It’s been a mixed season for the former World and European champions. Four wins out of six (L2) with both defeats ending 3 – 2 to England and Croatia respectively.
They got back on track with an unconvincing 1 – 0 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina last time out but will be looking for a vast improvement. That was the only game this season to feature under 2.5 goals. Indeed, four games saw over 4.5 goals.
Spain lead the head-to-head with just one defeat in six (W4, D1) and won the last two meetings with both matches featuring three goals exactly. Norway has never won in Spain (L3) and only scored one goal.
Norway are unbeaten in four (W3, D1) and their only defeat during 2018-19 season came in Bulgaria. Goals are in short supply with none of their last seven seeing over 2.5 goals and only one of those games seeing both sides score.
Spain’s problem is the lack of a consistent goalscorer up front. Sergio Ramos is the squad’s leading scorer and they need Alvaro Morata to deliver on the international stage.
Gibraltar vs Ireland
Mick McCarthy’s second era as Republic of Ireland boss begins in Gibraltar in a match all Irish fans will view as a ‘gimme’. Complacency will be his biggest enemy but it’s hard to see the no-nonsense management style of the former Barnsley defender tolerating that.
Not that they have anything to be over-confident about. Ireland are winless this season (D4, L2) and haven’t scored in four. That three of those games finished goalless suggests the problem is mainly with the frontline although Wales 4 – 1 win in Cardiff last September was a salutary warning.
Ireland are unbeaten in the two previous meetings, scoring 11 and conceding none. Gibraltar have come a long way since then, winning three internationals in the past twelve months. They come into this game on the back of two consecutive defeats which dented a decent record. Prior to those, Gibraltar conceded less than 2.5 goals in each of the previous four games.
Shane Long’s injury saw Aidan O’Brien called up but the trio of McGoldrick, Maguire and Collins are the ones expected to end the Republic’s goal drought.
While Mick McCarthy noted the artificial pitch was a ‘leveller’, that was the old-stager playing to the hosts. He’ll be disappointed if this is anything less than a comfortable away win.
Euro2020 Qualifiers: Our Tips
Italy vs Finland: Italy to win 2 – 0 @ 7/2 with Novibet
Spain vs Norway: Spain to win and both sides to score @ 37/20 with Novibet
Gibraltar vs Republic of Ireland: Ireland to win and under 3.5 goals @ 6/5 with Novibet
Our three tips could give you Accumulator odds of 27/1 with Novibet!