Image for Greg Lea Greg Lea - October 14, 2022

Italy vs North Macedonia World Cup Prediction, Odds, Picks

  • Italy and North Macedonia will battle it out for a place in the final of the play-offs
  • The European champions only finished second in their group in UEFA qualifying
  • North Macedonia will struggle to prevent the Azzurri advancing to the final

Italy vs North Macedonia Odds

 

Italy Vs North Macedonia 2022 03 24

Italy vs North Macedonia Pick

Back Italy to be winning after 30 minutes (+110)

This will be a one-sided game and it is, therefore, hard to find good value in the market, so we have got creative to pick out this selection.

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Italy vs North Macedonia Predictions

Italy Still Have Work To Do After Sloppiness in Group Stage

Not since Greece in 2006 have the reigning European champions failed to qualify for the subsequent World Cup. The same fate could befall Italy this year.

Roberto Mancini’s men were deserved winners of Euro 2020 last summer, overcoming Turkey, Switzerland, Wales, Austria, Belgium, Spain and England on the way to continental glory. But a second-place finish in their World Cup qualification group has left Italy sweating.

The Azzurri did not lose any of their eight group games, but they still dropped far too many points. Exactly half of their matches ended with the scores level. A failure to beat Switzerland home or away, together with draws with Bulgaria and Northern Ireland, saw Italy finish two points adrift of top spot. Switzerland advanced directly to Qatar 2022 instead, leaving the European champions to face North Macedonia in the play-off semi-finals and either Portugal or Turkey in the final.

Interestingly, most of Italy’s dropped points came after the European Championship, which suggests some sort of post-victory hangover within the ranks. Yet while they will still be kicking themselves at their failure to qualify automatically, Italy must put that disappointment behind them and focus on the task at hand.

If they can replicate the level of performance they put in at Euro 2020, Italy will have too much for any of North Macedonia, Portugal or Turkey. They played fast, intense soccer at that tournament, displaying a degree of coherence and coordination that is hard to produce at international level. Mancini will be hoping for more of the same in Sicily on Thursday.

North Macedonia’s Dreams of World Cup Debut Still Alive

North Macedonia made history when they took part in the European Championship last summer. That was the country’s first ever major tournament participation, as the Lynxes benefited from the recent expansion of UEFA’s flagship competition from 16 to 24 teams.

They were unable to avoid defeat in any of their three matches, but North Macedonia did not disgrace themselves at Euro 2020. It took Austria until the 78th minute to make it 2-1 in their opening game, and Ukraine only beat them by a slender margin a few days later. North Macedonia were outclassed by the Netherlands in their final encounter, but there was no shame in that.

North Macedonia qualified for the World Cup play-offs in impressive fashion. Germany were always likely to win Group J, but the battle for second looked highly competitive with Iceland, Romania and Armenia all in with a shout.

It was North Macedonia who finished as runners-up, though, thanks in part to a sensational 2-1 victory over Germany in Duisburg. They lost only two of their 10 group games, which shows Blagoja Milevski’s side can be a tough nut to crack.

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Italy Will Make Light Work of North Macedonia on Home Soil

In matches such as this, where it is relatively easy to predict the overall outcome, finding good value in the market can be difficult. There are no guarantees in soccer and there have seen some stunning upsets throughout the history of the international game, but it is hard not to see Italy winning this particular qualifier.

From a betting perspective, there is little point in betting the moneyline or even choosing options such as Italy to win to nil or Italy to win both halves. Such selections would bring only a minimal return. It is preferable to seek out less common bets, which at times requires patience and creativity.

Italy to be winning after 30 minutes is a good choice on this occasion. Mancini’s side will aim to get this tie done and dusted as quickly as possible. Establishing a sizable lead by the hour mark would allow Italy to rest some of their key players ahead of the play-off final against Turkey or Portugal. Mancini will want his main men to be as fresh as possible for that pivotal game next week.

North Macedonia will adopt reactive, cautious tactics in Palermo. We can expect to see them pack men behind the ball and look to make life difficult for Italy, who will have to keep their composure if they do not make an early breakthrough. But with the quality the Azzurri have in attacking areas, we can be reasonably confident of them finding the back of the net within the first half an hour.

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How to Watch Italy vs North Macedonia

Italy vs North Macedonia Information
Teams Italy vs North Macedonia
Location Stadio Renzo Barbera, Palermo, Italy
Time Thursday 24 March 2022, 03.45 PM EST
How to watch ESPN

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AUTHOR

Greg Lea

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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]

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