Professional Soccer Predictions: What Are Italy’s Chances At Victory?

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Published September 3, 2015
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Italy will be returning to international action with two important EURO 2016 Qualifiers that will see them face off against Malta and Bulgaria, both to be played in Italy.
Italy will be playing Malta in Florence on Sept. 3 in a game that must be won by the Italians. Malta, as expected, has struggled mightily in Group H and has scored just one goal in six games. They sit on the bottom of the group with one point coming from a 1-1 draw against fourth-place Bulgaria.
The Italians will need to win both of their games to all but clinch their berth into the 2016 European Championships. In fact, if Italy secures both wins and the rest of the results go their way, they could clinch before the final two qualifiers in mid-October.
Head coach Antonio Conte has to make sure that his team doesn’t get lazy against two of the teams that are on a path to elimination.
The toughest of the two games will come against Bulgaria. The game will be held in Palermo and will take place on Sept. 6. When the two previously played in Sofia in March, Bulgaria gave Italy a much tougher game than many expected. Italy barely managed to squeak out a 2-2 draw after they were in danger of dropping a crucial three points.
Italy is also the only team in Group H to have faced 2014 World Cup Finalist and current Group H leader, Croatia ,twice. Croatia still has to play Bulgaria, Malta, Azerbaijan and Norway once more. Croatia is currently just one point ahead of Italy after drawing in either teams’ latest qualifier; neither team was able to gain an upper hand over the other and both games ended in a 1-1 draw.
Italy is the only team in Group H to prevent Croatia from winning thusfar until a point was deducted from Croatia after the two teams met in June. The point was deducted after a swastika was scrawled onto the pitch before the game between the two and was infamously noticed during the first half by fans and officials.
Both Eder (Sampdoria) and Graziano Pelle (Southampton) have been called up to the international side to be a part of an Italian attack that is still finding itself post-Mario Balotelli. Balotelli has fallen completely out of form since the 2014 World Cup and hasn’t been brought back since the international tournament. Pelle scored the lone goal in the 1-0 game against Malta last October, while Eder saved Italy in the 84th minute against Bulgaria in March.
Italian legends Andrea Pirlo (New York City FC) and Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus) will also be returning to the lineups as both have still played exceptionally well at 36 and 37 years old, respectively.

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