Italy will start as the favourites in Thursday’s Euro 2016 qualifier match against lowest placed Malta at Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence. Currently Italy are behind Croatia by 2 points in Group H of the Euro 2016 qualifiers.
In their last three encounters in the Euro 2016 qualifying round, the Azzurris have faced Croatia twice and Bulgaria once. The star studded Italian side disappointed as all the three matches ended in a draw.
Antonio Conte’s side looks desperate for a win against Malta, who are the only team that have not won a match in the qualifiers.
The Italian side boasts of worldclass players in their side. The defence looks solid with the likes of Darmian, Chiellini, Bonucci and Pasqual. Up on the front, the perfect balance of speed and precision is provided by El Shaarawy, Pelle and Zaza. With Buffon’s safe pair of hands and clinical crosses from the playmaker Pirlo, the Italian side have the perfect ingredients to outplay the lowest seeded team in Group H.
In the last seven encounters against Italy, Malta have always ended on the losing side. Last year Pelle’s brilliant goal handed the Italian side an easy win over Malta.
Malta are still searching for their first win in the qualifiers and have scored only one goal in their last six matches. Malta’s last international triumph was against Almeria (1-0) in World Cup qualification in June 2013. Judging by their performance in the last few games it looks very unlikely that Pietro Ghedin’s side which lacks star power will cause a major setback by restricting the Azzurris.
Pietro Ghedin is completely aware of the challenge ahead but has full faith on his side who are willing to give their hundred percent against the Azzurris.
“We do not have big names but we have a very united squad. We are in very good condition. Preparations have gone well and tomorrow we will do our utmost to turn in as good a performance as possible. One has to keep in mind that Italy are second in the group while we are bottom of the table. It will be a very difficult match to get points from, but what we can do for sure is give 100%,” said Ghedin in a press conference.
Possible Team Lineup
Buffon; Darmian, Chiellini, Bonucci, Pasqual; De Rossi, Verratti, Pirlo; El Shaarawy, Pelle, Zaza
Haber, Cini, Agius, Failla, Z Muscat, Briffa, Cohen, Fenech, Kristensen; Mifsud, Schembri
Head To Head
- In Last seven encounters against Malta, Italy have won all the games and scored 20 times.
- The teams met last in October in the reverse group fixture, where Southampton’s Pelle scored a brilliant goal to hand the Italian side an easy win over Malta.
- The two countries also met during qualification for the 2014 World Cup where the Azzurris won both matches 2-0.