The two teams with perfect records in Group H clash on Sunday and the Croatians will be waving goodbye to their 100% winning record at the final whistle.
Italy and Croatia are setting the standard in their group as was expected, both teams enjoying a 100% success rate so far in the qualifying group after three matches. Croatia have recorded some easy wins, scoring nine goals in the process and conceding none, whilst the Italians have been rather less impressive to date with single goal wins over Azerbaijan and minnows Malta.
Antonio Conte’s side had a poor World Cup, going out at the group stages and the Italian coach maintains that his side are still growing following the competition. Cesare Prandelli was dismissed from his position as team manager and Conte believes that this clash will see Italy display a much improved performance following the disappointment in South America.
Despite Conte claiming that his side are still rebuilding, they start as firm favourites to clinch the points at the San Siro Stadium on Sunday, however the bookmakers are not completely optimistic about their chances with William Hill offering the best price of 5/4 for a home win, a draw up for grabs at 23/10 and a Croatia victory available at 27/10 with Paddy Power.
Nevertheless, despite some unconvincing displays of late, we believe that the home side will manage what will be a hard-fought victory.
The hosts continue to be strong in defence, conceding a solitary goal so far in the competition, however Croatia will prove tough opposition and have demonstrated their ability to score with nine goals to date in the qualifying campaign. They will nevertheless struggle to find a way past the solid Italian rearguard and as such, odds of 23/10 at Coral for Italy to win to nil holds some appeal.
The best bet for us is a simple Italy to Win this match. The hosts have shown that they can grind out results, even if it can be rather ugly at times. This may not be pretty, however the Italian fans will be going home happy on Sunday.
Our betting tips
Italy to win – William Hill 5/4