Sunday 8 September : 7.45pm KO
Live on Sky Sports
Italy have been notable absentees in recent big football tournaments. The country are usually ever-present at such events but haven’t qualified since the 2016 European Championships. That looks like changing though as the Italians top Group J with a 100 per cent record. They now travel to Finland who are second in the group with 12 points from their five games.
A major tournament without Italy used to be unimaginable. That’s all changed of late with them being absent from the 2018 World Cup and the 2018/19 UEFA Nations League. All that looks to be becoming history though as they have made a strong start to their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign. The current odds on them becoming European champions next year are 16/1 (17.0) at Betfair.
So far, Italy have played five games in this group and won each and every one of them. No wonder they are only 1/10 (1.1) at Bet365 to be group winners. Their five games played so far have seen them score 16 goals and concede just twice. Six of those came at home against Liechtenstein and they have scored at least twice in each of their games. You can get odds of 7/10 (1.7) at Unibet on them winning this match.
Away form in this group has seen them win 3-0 in Greece and on Thursday, defeat Armenia 3-1. The odds on the Italians scoring exactly three goals in this game are 11/2 (6.5) at William Hill. It’s a big improvement on a run of four goals in their previous eight away matches.
Whereas Italy have a long history of success in major tournaments, Finland definitely don’t. They have never reached the finals of either the World Cup or these European Championships. This season has seen massive improvement though for the Finnish side who are 8/1 (9.0) at BetVictor to win this group.
Finland won their group in the Nations League so they will be in Division B next time. They won four of their six group games getting wins over Hungary, Estonia and Greece. That means whatever happens in this group, they will be in the play-offs.
That good form has continued in the Euro 2020 qualifiers. They have 12 points from their five games and the only match they haven’t won was away in Italy. Wins have come against Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Liechtenstein and Greece. They have a five point lead over the third-placed side so could well finish in the top two. They are available at 5/1 (6.0) at Betred to get a famous win over the Italians.
Their most famous player is Teemu Pukki. The Norwich City striker has already scored five goals in the English Premier League this season. Go to Betway to get odds of 10/3 (4.3) on him scoring in this match.
Italy have dominated previous meetings with Finland. 13 games have produced 12 wins and just one draw. That draw was 44 years ago, if you think another one is long overdue, it’s 5/2 (3.5) at SportPesa on this game ending all-square.
Italy are without Giorgio Chiellini, Mattia de Sciglio, Lorenzo Insigne and Bryan Cristante.
The last six games between these two countries have seen Finland fail to score a goal. It’s 42 years since they last celebrated scoring against Italy. The odds of an Italian clean sheet are 10/11 (1.91) at Ladbrokes. You can get 19/25 (1.76) at Royal Panda on Finland scoring in this game.
Finland have joined the likes of Albania and Iceland in making huge strides in international football. They are already in the play-offs but with a five-point lead over third place, may not need that route. This is their toughest game though and it’ll be a relief that none of their final four games are against the Italians. Italy to win with under 2.5 goals in the game has odds of 9/4 (3.25) at BoyleSports.