Slovakia vs Italy – Azzurri can grind their way to last 16
Despite being billed as Group F’s clear and comfortable winners, Italy enter their final group match needing a win against Slovakia to be sure of a place in the last 16.
Italy are 4/7 to win and progress to the second round, though considering the World Cup holders’ shaky form, the match could be a tight affair.
Alberto Gilardino has disappointed in the first two matches and he is likely to be replaced by Udinese’s Antonio Di Natale, who scored 29 Serie A goals last season and is 11/2 to open the scoring against Slovakia.
Slovakia’s main goal threat, meanwhile, will be Robert Vittek. The striker needs two goals to equal Slovakia’s national record, and he is 10/1 to score first against Italy.
Slovakia will also hope that their captain Marek Hamsik can produce a big performance. The Napoli playmaker will be familiar to the Italian players, and he will be integral to any Slovakian hopes of an upset.
While Italy were uninspiring in their first two matches, Slovakia were distinctly poor. They lacked guile and imagination against New Zealand and Paraguay and, as such, a Slovakian win seems unlikely at 5/1.
Italy have only managed to score one goal in each of their last four matches, and that trend could continue here. They are 9/2 to beat Slovakia 1-0.
The Azzurri began slowly in Germany when they won the 2006 World Cup, and if they can overcome Slovakia, Italy could yet prove their numerous doubters wrong in South Africa.