Euro 2016 qualifier: Unbeaten Italy in crucial group decider against Norway
There is still everything to play for in Euro 2016 qualifying Group H, as table-toppers Italy, already automatically qualified for France, face a Norway team who still stand a chance of winning the group or even falling into the third place play-off place.
Closest rivals Croatia meet minnows Malta in their final fixture and, with the Blazers just two points behind while also edging the head-to-heads on goal difference, the Norwegians need a victory (15/4 from Coral) versus Italy to be sure.
As the Azzurri, unbeaten in qualifying but still inconsistent, have never lost to the Scandinavians on home turf, Antonio Conte’s boys in royal blue are understandably 23/20 favourites to triumph.
After downing Norway 2-0 on the road in the reverse, the Italians are superb at 9/5 to win to nil once again and keep their fifth clean sheet of the campaign.
“We’re still growing as a squad and we still have plenty of work to do. But we’re hoping to build our own little war machine,” said Azzurri coach Conte, who once lost away to Norway on the pitch as a player back in 2000.
Goals have not been hard to come by for the 2012 European Championship finalists, either, as the Italians have a terrific tally of 16. Though many of their key players are ageing, with just three from the current call-ups 23 or under.
Juventus striker Simone Zaza struck against the Scandinavian side in Oslo and is 5/1 to fire in first again, or 6/5 in the anytime market. Though Southampton sharpshooter Graziano Pelle is in superior club form, so may be better to back at 4/1 to notch the opener instead.
Alternative attacking punts include Monaco magician Stephan El Shaarawy (5/4 to notch anytime) and Brazil-born Eder Citadin Martins (4/1 to have the final say), who both found the target last time in a 3-1 rout of Azerbaijan.
A draw at the Stadio Olimpico at 12/5 could still not be enough for Nordic nation Norway, so the guests will be relying on Bournemouth frontman Joshua King to provide potency anytime at 10/3, while Real Madrid starlet Martin Odegaard is 11/2 to make a difference in the same market.
Betting tip: Pelle is promising at 4/1 to score first