Italy will face North Macedonia in the World Cup playoff semifinals on Thursday at the Stadio Renzo Barbera in Palermo and could meet Turkey or Portugal in the Final on March 29. They ended their qualification group in second place behind Switzerland, only a few months after winning the Euros. If you want to bet on the World Cup qualifiers, our sportsbook has you covered.
Let’s check the latest news, stats, injury reports, and UEFA World Cup Qualifiers odds for Italy vs North Macedonia. We’ve plenty of predictions for you to consider.
Italy: European Champions
Undoubtedly the biggest upset of the World Cup qualification campaign was European champions Italy finishing behind Switzerland in Group C. Jorginho’s last-minute penalty miss in their penultimate group game, against Switzerland, was a huge blow for Italy, as was their goalless draw away to Northern Ireland in their final group game, but there is still hope for the European champions.
If you’re betting online, it’s very important to note that Italy has lost just once in their last 41 fixtures across all competitions, winning 31 games and keeping a clean sheet in 70 percent of their wins. Italy coach Roberto Mancini said that the Azzurri want to win the World Cup, but admits his concern for the fitness of his defenders, insisting that PSG’s keeper Gigio Donnarumma is not a problem.
Most of the players in Italy’s squad look exhausted as most of them are fighting for domestic trophies. Italy’s defensive solidity was one of the key factors to winning EURO 2020, but only two players of that defense are expected to be in the starting lineup against North Macedonia on Thursday.
Leonardo Bonucci is still recovering from a calf injury and was not available in Juventus‘ 2-0 win over Salernitana while his teammate, Giorgio Chiellini, has just recovered from a similar issue and did only play 45 minutes last weekend. Inter Milan‘s Alessandro Bastoni is expected to join AS Roma’s Gianluca Mancini at the back.
The Italian football federation announced last week that Manuel Locatelli will join the squad following an isolation period. That likely means he won’t be available until a possible final against Portugal or Turkey.
North Macedonia: Overrated
North Macedonia is not bad in front of goal, netting 23 times in qualifying, but they are up against potentially the best defensive line in international football. The Azzurri conceded a total of four goals on their way to Euro 2020 glory. They were the surprise package of the continental finals, but they exited after three successive defeats from their first major tournament in 27 years without a point.
They finished second in Group G with their only defeats coming against Germany and Romania, but they pulled one of the biggest upsets in the history of the game, beating (former Germany’s head coach) Joachim Low’s side at the beginning of their campaign. Deploying an attack-minded formation, the Red Lions finished the group phase with the second most potent attack in their group. Facing the European champions will not be an easy task for them, but they will definitely play their chances and try to advance in the playoffs final. Let’s not overreact and avoid adding them to our soccer picks and parlays.
They have some interesting players in the top five European leagues and they have a great fighting spirit. Elif Elmas has four goals to his name during Qatar 2022 qualifying, including a decisive brace in a 3-1 win over Iceland in their final group game. The team’s talisman has also started 2022 well, as evidenced by his four assists in Serie A since Jan. 17.
Italy vs North Macedonia Head-to-Head
This is the third competitive match between the two teams. Italy is unbeaten, winning four from six available points from the two World Cup qualifiers against North Macedonia. They played each other in 2017 and despite failing to beat Italy, the visitors scored on both occasions with one and two goals, respectively. Both teams improved since then with North Macedonia qualifying to their first major tournament in their history while Italy won Euro 2020.
Italy vs North Macedonia Game Information
- Game: Italy (4-4-0) vs. North Macedonia (5-3-2)
- Location: Stadio Renzo Barbera (Palermo)
- Day/Time: Thursday, 3:45 p.m. ET
- Soccer: Live stream: fubo.tv
Italy vs North Macedonia Betting Lines
|Italy||-1½ -135||-450||3+110o||2½+115o / 2½-145u|
|North Macedonia||+1½ +105||+1200||3-140u||½+135o / ½-165u|
Italy vs North Macedonia Predictions
The hosts enter this clash as heavy favorites at -450 on the three-way moneyline according to the latest soccer odds. The spread is set at -1½ while the goal line is set at three, a bit too high given the circumstances. Everybody keeps downplaying the fact that Italy went 37 games in a row without a loss and that’s a world record. They are at the top of their game and everybody’s jumping ship already?
Their experience, rock-solid defense, and their ability to change the rhythm inside the match should be enough for Italy to easily qualify to the playoffs finals. Of course, -450 is not a playable price but we found a better option. We don’t expect North Macedonia to find the back of the net and we also don’t expect Italy to score four on their own, so we’re combining the moneyline with the goals’ market.