Defending European champions Italy, having missed out on participation in the 2022 World Cup, now find themselves in a precarious position as they progress through Euro 2024 qualifying.
Sitting outside the coveted top two Group C positions, they meet Ukraine at the San Siro on Tuesday desperately needing to take points off their surprise competition.
New Italy head coach Luciano Spalletti, who took over for Roberto Mancini and tasted a bitterly disappointing draw with North Macedonia in his debut on Saturday, will hope for improvement against a very competitive Ukraine side who sit second in the group. Italy rest three points back but with a game in hand and can leap into a qualifying position with a win. England remain well clear at the top of the standings.
Still, it won't be easy, as Ukraine are on a four-match unbeaten run, and Italy boast a squad that is unrecognisable from the team that won the European Championship just two years ago.
Italy vs Ukraine match facts
- Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2023
- Kickoff Time: 7.45 p.m. BST
- Location: San Siro (Milan, Italy)
- Official: Alejandro Jose Hernandez Hernandez (SPA)
- Last meeting: Italy 1-1 Ukraine (Oct. 10, 2018 | International Friendly)
Italy vs Ukraine prediction, odds
- Full-time result lean: Draw (3/1)
- Score prediction: Italy 2-2 Ukraine
Italy have been impossible to predict of late. They have put in a few good recent performances, including victory over the Netherlands in Nations League play plus narrow defeats to high-quality Spain and England sides.
Yet there is also a host of occasions where points were disappointingly dropped against theoretically inferior opponents, and the squad appears bereft of the wealth of talent this team is used to boasting. Ukraine are a truly resilient side, and they are absolutely capable of securing a result here, especially considering they've essentially played every game outside their home country for over a year now.
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Italy vs Ukraine: best bet
- Pick: Ukraine +1 goal handicap
- Odds: 17/20 (BetOnSports)
Backing the visitors on the double chance is enticing, but this selection provides a bit more safety at still very palatable odds. Dating all the way back to March of 2021, Ukraine have only lost to two teams by multiple goals: England twice, and a 3-0 defeat to a surprisingly in-form Scotland.
It's not in Ukraine's makeup to fall to heavy defeat, and this Italy side just flat out doesn't have the talent to buck that trend.
Italy vs Ukraine prop bet
- Pick: Ciro Immobile anytime goalscorer
- Odds: 27/20 (BetOnSports)
There are very few players on this Italy side who are built to score goals, so nearly everything in the attack is built for central striker Ciro Immobile. North Macedonia did well to shield him from the penalty area and put Immobile under pressure, holding him to just one shot, but he still managed to score a goal.
It's hard to imagine Immobile being locked down like that in two straight matches, even if this Italy side lacks truly incisive playmaking talent. Immobile is also a streaky goalscorer for the national team, and having found the back of the net in two straight appearances, it's a good idea to back him to make it three.