Italy face big Sweden hurdle

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 15: Gianluigi Buffon of Italy in action during the match Usa vs Italy played at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium on June 15, 2009 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Italy have only failed on one occasion to qualify for the World Cup finals, but a play-off against Sweden could put them in danger of doubling that tally.

The Azzurri finished second in their group behind Spain, no shame in that you might say, but their recent performances give more reason to be concerned.

Their final two group games saw them held to a 1-1 draw at home to Macedonia and sneak a 1-0 win in Albania.

So don’t expect too many goals on Friday evening in Stockholm, a goalless draw is 17/4, while a 1-1 scoreline at 21/4 is another option to give serious consideration to.

With goals having been something of a problem for Italy in recent games, who is capable of stepping up and delivering at such a crucial time?

Striker Ciro Immobile has already scored 18 times for Lazio this season and finds the net on average once every four games for his country. So, as he is without a goal in his last three Azzurri outings, 9/4 to score at any time is worthy of a second look.

Hosts Sweden go into the game also in inconsistent form, having lost two of their final four qualifiers.

However, their form on home soil has been impressive, with just two points dropped in Sweden in qualification, with group winners France seen off 2-1.

Scoring goals also seems to be less of a problem for the Swedes than it is for the Italians, with Marcus Berg the star of the show with eight goals so far in qualifiers.

He is 14/5 to score at any time, while 23/4 to score the first goal of the game might a market to tempt you in.

If Berg can deliver, then Sweden could get out of the game with a slight advantage for the second leg, so 33/10 for the hosts to win to zero is one to ponder.

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