Italy will look to continue their good start to the European Qualifiers when they host Liechtenstein on Tuesday in their second match of group J.
The Azzurri earned a solid 2-0 victory over Finland on Saturday to get their campaign off to the perfect start, and they will certainly be expecting a comprehensive victory against minnows Liechtenstein.
The visitors are ranked a whopping 163 places below Italy in FIFA's world rankings, and their 2-0 loss to Greece already sees them sat at the bottom of the group.
Here's 90min's preview of Tuesday's game.
Where to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?||Tuesday 26 March|
|What Time Is Kick Off?||19:45 (GMT)|
|Where Is it Played?||Stadio Ennio Tardini|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||Sky Sports Red Button|
Injuries to the likes of Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Chiesa forced Roberto Mancini to bring in some younger players into the lineup, all of whom made it out of the Finland clash unscathed. With no further injuries, Mancini could look to give some of his stars a rest for what, on paper, should be a straightforward match.
As for Liechtenstein, they have no injury worries, meaning manager Helgi Kolvidsson will be able to call upon his strongest side as they seek to cause a major upset.
|Italy||Donnarumma; Piccini, Bonucci, Romagnoli; Spinazzola; Jorginho, Barella, Zaniolo; Kean, Quagliarella, Bernardeschi.|
|Liechtenstein||Buchel; Brandle, Rechsteiner, Malin, Goppel; Hasler, Polverino, Wieser, Sele, Salanovic; Gubser.|
Head to Head Record
The two sides have met just twice in the past, and it does not make for pretty reading for Liechtenstein. The minnows have been comprehensively thumped 4-0 and 5-0 since 2016, with their latest meeting coming in the qualifying stages for last summer's World Cup.
Goals from Insigne, Andrea Belotti, Eder, Federico Bernardeschi and Manolo Gabbiadini saw the Azzurri pick up a comfortable win. However, only one of those - Bernardeschi - is in the current Italy squad, so maybe Liechtenstein will have a chance against a fresh crop of players?
Italy's 2-0 win over Finland was a great start to their qualifying campaign, and also a good example of their strong run of form as of late. In 2018, Italy tasted defeat only against France, Argentina and Portugal on their quest to recover their place as one of Europe's top sides.
Similarly, Liechtenstein's 2-0 defeat at the hands of Greece was a good example of their form, but for all the wrong reasons. The Blues-Reds have won just three games since 2015, and they will do well to add a fourth to that on Tuesday.
Here's how each side has fared in their last five games:
|Italy 2-0 Finland (23/3)||Greece 2-0 Liechtenstein (23/3)|
|Italy 1-0 USA (20/11)||Liechtenstein 2-2 Armenia (19/11)|
|Italy 0-0 Portugal (17/11)||Liechtenstein 0-2 North Macedonia (16/11)|
|Poland 0-1 Italy (14/10)||Gibraltar 2-1 Liechtenstein (16/10)|
|Italy 1-1 Ukraine (10/10)||North Macedonia 4-1 Liechtenstein (13/10)|
After the humiliation of failing to qualify for last summer's World Cup, you get the impression that Italy are prepared to do whatever it takes to qualify for the next big tournament. Unfortunately, that does not bode well for Liechtenstein.
A positive result against the group favourites will be an almighty challenge, and few will be backing Liechtenstein on Tuesday. Although, as Kazakhstan showed us against Scotland, you should never say never.
However, we are saying never. Italy should have far too much about them to allow Liechtenstein a chance to make this competitive, and it could be the feel-good result that supporters of the Azzurri are looking for.
Prediction: Italy 4-0 Liechtenstein