How the Bookies See it
- Winner: Italy 16/11, Draw 11/5, Republic of Ireland 23/10 - 888Sport
- Last Goalscorer: Graziano Pelle 6/1, No Goalscorer 13/2, Shane Long 11/2 - SkyBet
- Correct Score: Italy 1-0 6/1, Draw 1-1 11/2, Draw 0-0 6/1 - Boylesports
- A 1-1 draw with Sweden in the opening round of matches may well have been Ireland’s downfall, especially as the Swedes failed to register a single shot on target. A 3-0 defeat to Belgium has left the Green Army on the brink of elimination and only a win in their final group match will see them stand any chance of making it into the next round.
- Italy were dismissed by many prior to this summer’s tournament, but they currently find themselves top of their group and unbeaten in the competition so far. Antonio Conte’s side chalked up a shock 2-0 win over Belgium before squeezing past Sweden with a sensational solo goal from Eder late in the game. The Italians are yet to concede, with the Juventus backline of Buffon, Bonucci, Barzagli and Chiellini providing a solid foundation for Conte and company to build on.
With nothing less than a win being enough for Ireland, the team that currently sit bottom of Group E must go all out to avoid a premature exit. Shane Long will be hoping to break his tournament duck and fire the boys from the Emerald Isle to victory. The Southampton hitman is 9/1 with William Hill to find the net first and Ireland to secure a crucial win. The Irish last recorded a competitive victory over Italy during the World Cup in 1994 when a goal from Ray Houghton secured a 1-0 win. A mere 22 years later and Ireland are 15/2 with BetVictor to repeat that scoreline.
Italy’s late win over Sweden, coupled with Ireland’s defeat to Belgium, guaranteed that the Azzurri would finish top of Group E and progress to the Round of 16. Their early qualification should give Antonio Conte licence to rest a number of his first team regulars, with the likes of Chiellini, Di Rossi and Giaccherini making way. Expect to see a number of fringe players introduced, with Torino’s Ciro Immobile and Juventus’ Simone Zaza likely to lead the line. Both players are 7/1 with Ladbrokes to break the deadlock, while a wager on Italy to win and Immobile to score anytime is 4/1 with William Hill.
With four of the six third place finishers making it through to the last 16, Ireland will fancy their chances of toppling a much changed Italy side. Martin O’Neill’s men are 2/1 with Bet365 to qualify, while those looking for a riskier bet might prefer the Green Army to finish second in the group - a very handsome 125/1 with PaddyPower.
- Sports.net’s top tip: Shane Long to score and Ireland to win 1-0 20/1 - William Hill
*Please note that odds may fluctuate in the run up to kick-off.