Italy will be looking to put their disastrous World Cup qualification campaign behind them when they take on Argentina in a friendly match at the Etihad Stadium on Friday.
Gian Piero Ventura’s team suffered an embarrassing 1-0 aggregate defeat to Sweden in the play-offs, failing to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958.
In caretaker command following Ventura’s inevitable dismissal, Under-21 coach Luigi Di Biagio is available at 14/5 (3.80) with to give his nation a much-needed boost with victory in Manchester.
The Albiceleste left it to the final round of South American qualifying to secure their own place in Russia, but are even odds (2.00) favourites to prove their credentials by coming out on top in this clash.
Alternatively, you can get odds of 23/10 (3.30) on the sides cancelling each other out for their third time in five meetings.
Gian Marco Ferrari, Federico Chiesa and Patrick Cutrone could all be in line for their Italy debuts.
Andrea Barzagli and Daniele De Rossi announced their retirements from international football following the Sweden defeat, but Gianluigi Buffon reversed his decision and has been included in the squad.
Opposite number Jorge Sampaoli has called up the uncapped Fabricio Bustos, Maximiliano Meza, Pablo Perez, and Lautaro Martínez, although is without Sergio Aguero due to injury.
Having kept nine clean sheets in the last 13 fixtures but scored only three goals in the most recent six, it is not difficult to see where the Azzurri mainly need to improve.
Surprisingly for a team blessed with the prodigious talents of Lionel Messi, Sampaoli’s team have also struggled for cutting edge – scoring just eight goals and drawing five blanks in their final nine qualifiers.
Preview and predictions
All in all, odds of 8/11 (1.73) are well worth backing on no more than one side finding the net for Italy’s 13th game in 14, as well as an 11th in 14 for Argentina.
Both teams to score: ‘No’ at 8/11 (1.73) with for a 3pt stake