Italy have it all to do in the second leg of their World Cup 2018 play off with Sweden at the San Siro this evening after a 1-0 defeat in the first leg in Stockholm.
The Azzurri haven’t missed a World Cup since 1958 but are in real danger of failing to reach Russia, and the Swedes should head into this one in confident mood after managing a win and a clean sheet in the first leg.
The Italians haven’t lost a home game since September last year, when they were beaten by France in a friendly, and their last competitive home loss was over 18 years ago.
Incredibly, Italy have NEVER lost a World Cup qualifier on home soil but Sweden don’t need a win to progress and they may be able to get the result they need.
Italy were held by minnows Macedonia in their final home qualifier and could only muster a 1-0 win over Israel back in September.
Sweden managed two wins and three defeats in Group A but only once did they lose by more than one goal and only once did they fail to score.
An away goal could well be the decider this evening and the visitors have enough quality in attack to cause Italy a few problems, especially as the home side have to push forward in this one.
Italy kept five successive clean sheets at home prior to that 1-1 stalemate with Macedonia but the only result that stands out during that time is a 0-0 draw with Germany in a friendly.
Italy may well get the win this evening, with a home win and both teams to score another play – but it may not be enough to qualify regardless and backing both teams to score seems a good option at good value in this crucial qualifier.