Italy vs Republic of Ireland – Group E – 8pm (ITV) – 22.06.16 – Stade Pierre-Mauroy, LilleItaly have shown themselves to be one of the most consistent teams at this year’s European Championships.
Antonio Conte has shown a remarkable tactical awareness to overcome both Belgium and Sweden without conceding a goal, limiting their opponent to just three shots on target between them.
Gli Azzurri are generally regarded as a side that can always fight their way out of the group stages and this tournament has been no different.
Guaranteed qualification with one game still left to play, only a disastrous result against bottom placed Republic of Ireland will see them finish any lower than the top of the group.
The Boys in Green have put up a fair fight and, although qualification is still mathematically possible, they face an uphill task if they are to get anywhere close.
Only a loss for Belgium against a Sweden side yet to register a shot on target at this year’s competition and a comprehensive Irish victory over Italy will see them qualify automatically.
They could potentially still qualify in third, but the competition for those spots is fierce as the group stages draw to a close.
Conte has admitted that he plans to field a changed side from the one that has dominated the last two games but I can’t see Italy throwing away a potentially perfect group stage performance.
Recommendation: Italy win to nil at 3.40
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Shane Long to score anytime and Republic of Ireland to win at 11.00
Italy to Win & Keep A Clean Sheet at 3.75
Ciro Immobile to score and Italy to win a 7.00
- This will be the 14th meeting between these sides; Italy have won eight of the previous 13 while the Republic of Ireland have won two (D3).
- Not since the first two meetings between the sides, both 3-0 victories for Italy, has either team managed to score more than two goals in fixtures between the sides.
- Italy are unbeaten in their 12 competitive games under Antonio Conte (W9 D3).
- Italy have never scored more than two goals in their 35 games at the European Championships.
- Italy have kept a clean sheet in each of their last four games, their longest run since the 2006 World Cup, which they eventually won.
- In their last game, Republic of Ireland failed to have a shot on target in a major tournament game for the first time since the 1994 World Cup
- The Green Army are winless in their last seven Euros fixtures (D2, L5), since winning their first ever game in the competition against England in 1988.
- Ireland have never scored more than one goal in a Euros game, failing to find the net in four of their eight games in the competition and scoring just four goals in total.