16th of November 2018 Author: Johnny Karp
Portugal can secure top spot in Group 3 with a game to spare, all they need to do is avoid defeat against Italy at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium in Milan on Saturday. Portugal won the reverse fixture 1-0 in September, the only goal of the match was scored by Andre Silva in the second half. It was the second consecutive win for Portugal over Italy in all competitions, and this mini-streak came after a long spell of dominance for Italy as they gathered nine consecutive wins in the direct encounters. Portugal have scored at least one goal in each of the last four direct meetings.
Italy are still struggling to revive themselves after having missed out on the FIFA World Cup last summer, they have played nine matches this year and won just two of them. Moreover, they only managed to score more than one goal in just one of those matches, the 2-1 victory over Saudi Arabia in a friendly match last spring. The UEFA Nations League campaign started with a 1-1 draw at home against Poland, then came the defeat in Portugal, and last month Italy managed to snatch a 1-0 victory in Poland thanks to a stoppage-time goal from Cristiano Biraghi. The only chance for Italy to qualify would be to beat Portugal on Saturday and then hope that Cristiano Ronaldo and company won't beat Poland in the last match of the group.
Portugal were in control of proceedings in this group right from the start, they kicked things off with the narrow victory over Italy and then extended their lead at the top of the table with a spectacular 3-2 victory in Poland. Andre Silva scored in both matches but he didn't find the back of the net in the two friendlies that Portugal have played after the World Cup, a 1-1 draw with Croatia and a 3-1 victory over Scotland last month. Pepe is suspended for this match, Andre Gomes is injured, while Cristiano Ronaldo was not included in the squad for this match either.
Italy: Donnarumma - Florenzi, Bonucci, Chiellini, Biraghi - Barella, Jorginho, Verratti - Chiesa, Immobile, Insigne
Portugal: Patricio - Cancelo, Dias, Neto, Rui - Pizzi, Neves, Carvalho - B. Silva, A. Silva, Bruma
My prediction: 1-1 draw, Portugal will control the game and secure their qualification.
Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:
Italy win - 2.25
Draw - 3.30
Portugal win - 3.60
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