The outcome of Italy’s final Group E game at Euro 2016 will have little effect on the Azzurri, having already recorded two wins before facing the Republic of Ireland in Lille.
Victories over Belgium and Sweden mean Antonio Conte’s men are assured of top spot and can shuffle their pack against Martin O’Neill’s men guilt free of the consequences.
Ahead of the clash with the Boys in Green it’s widely expected that such a rotation will occur, with the likes of Lorenzo Insigne, Thiago Motta and Stephan El Shaarawy in line to start. A raft of new faces doesn’t necessarily mean the Italians’ performance levels will subside however.
In fact history suggests quite the opposite, with the famous blue shirts coming out on top in each of their previous four final group games at the European Championships.
During a run that spans back to Euro 2000, the Azzurri have scored exactly two goals in all of those section-closing assignments and beat Ireland in the most recent of them, at Euro 2012.
Form that strong makes the 7/5 about an Italy victory against that same foe extremely appealing, but there is a case to be made for siding with the longer price of 15/8 that Conte’s squad notch at least twice instead.
Not only do Daniele De Rossi and co have form for bagging a brace in their last Euros group games, but they have a similar knack for doing so against Ireland.
In their last 11 internationals with the Republic, Italy have scored exactly two goals on six occasions.
Stretch that sample out to the last 13 tussles and Italy’s record for surpassing a 1.5-goal line against Ireland rises to eight. Under such strong evidence, there’s really no other place to look for a punting pearl.
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