Italy will be prepared to keep a clean record as they play their final Euro 2016 Group E game against Ireland on Wednesday at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille.
Italy sealed the qualification to the round of 16 from group F after winning their first 2 games against Belgium and Sweden. They have also kept clean sheets in the two games beating Belgium and Sweden to nil, they are now looking forward to continue their winning streak and possibly extend their clean sheet record as they move into the next stage of the prestigious European championship.
Ireland were unlucky in the first game of the tournament as an own goal from Ciaran Clark gifted Sweden share of the spoils. But luck ran out of them in the second game, as Belgium put three goals past them. Martin O’Neill and his men must win here to keep the hopes of qualifying to the knock out stages alive. This is an extremely difficult task considering how organized and hard the Italians were in their opening two games. But the omens are not good for the Irish side as they had never got past the group stages in their three appearances at the Euro Cup so far.
Italy: Team News
Antonio Candreva is injured after picking up a knock in 1-0 win against Sweden and he is the only player missing for Italy as they prepare for the final Group F game against Ireland.
Antonio Conte has no reasons to rotate his squad, but he has already confirmed that Bonucci, Chiellini, Eder and Daniele De Rossi will be rested, who are a yellow card away from suspension.
Gianluigi Buffon is carrying a knock and won’t be risked here and he will be replaced by PSG shot-stopper Salvatore Sirigu.
Italy: Predicted Line-up (3-5-2)
Sirigu – Darmian, Ogbonna, Barzagli – Shaarawy, Motta, Sturaro, Florenzi, Sciglio – Zaza, Pelle.
Ireland: Team News
Jonathan Walters remains sidelined with the knock he picked up in the first group game against Sweden. Daryl Murphy is the preferred replacement if Walters fail to be fit in time.
Martin O’Neil will be forced to make changes to the team that failed miserably against Belgium as they push for a win in this final group game to qualify for the knock-outs.
The center backs Ciaran Clark and John O’Shea will be dropped in favour of Shane Duffy and Richard Keogh. While Robbie Brady returns to left-back with Seamus Coleman retaining his spot at the right back position.
Stephen Quinn could come in at center midfield in favour of James McCarthy and a change in formation to 4-3-1-2 is expected.
Ireland: Predicted Line-up (4-3-1-2)
Randolph – Brady, Duffy, Keogh, Coleman – Hendrick, Whelan, Quinn – Hoolahan – Long, Walters.
Italy vs Ireland: Head to Head stats
Italy have won the greater part of their previous meetings, they have won 8 of their past 13 games against Ireland drawn 3 and lost only 2 games to Ireland.
Italy’s record against Ireland in competitive games is 4 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss in 7 games.
The teams had met in the final stages of a major tournament on three occasions – 2 World Cups and 1 Euro Cup, Italy won twice, while Ireland 1.
Their only meeting in a Euros was in the group stages of previous edition in 2012, Italy won the game by 2-0 with goals from Cassano and Balotelli.
The two meetings at World Cup – in the quarter finals 1990 edition hosted at home, Italy won 1-0 by a solo goal by Salvatore Schillaci. And in 1994 in USA, Ireland had their revenge winning 1-0 by an early goal by Ray Houghton.
Their latest meeting was an international friendly game in 2014 which ended in a 0-0 stalemate.
Italy vs Ireland: Predictions
Ireland need a miracle to go past Italy after their disappointing outing against Belgium. They are huge underdogs in this encounter and getting even a draw might be difficult for them. Ireland haven’t won in any of their previous 5 matches and their confidence will be on the lower side.
Italy had won each of their last four matches and that too with clean sheets. Conte has decided to rotate his squad due to fitness concerns and protect his players from suspension and this may slightly improve Ireland’s chances to get a result. Even in the absence of the key players, the Azzurri are a strong unit and they must be winning this without any problems.
With the good defensive form, the Italians can be backed to keep another clean sheet from them in this game. They match is predicted to end in a 2-0 Italy win at full-time.
1. Italy Clean Sheet.
2. Italy win at FT.
3. Under 2.5 goals.
4. Both Teams to Score – No.