Football tips: Our 3 best bets for Italy v Northern Ireland on Thursday

Paddy Power trader Paddy Murphy thinks Italy will be too strong for Northern Ireland

Roberto Mancini Liam Boyce Stuart Dallas Northern Ireland Ciro Immobile Italy

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*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at the time of publication but subject to change

There are a few international teams out there who will have been glad to see the end of 2020, and Northern Ireland are certainly one of them. The Ulstermen failed to win any of their eight matches last year and come into their opening Group C World Cup Qualifier against Italy as huge outsiders.

Italy manager Robert Mancini has named a strong squad and you’d be nervous for the Northern Irish here. Let’s have a look for some value and find the three bests bets for this match.

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Italy -2

Northern Ireland have a decent goal-scoring record over the last couple of campaigns. Indeed, they’ve scored at least one in 11 out of their last 14 matches and on the road have gotten on the scoresheet in eight out of their last nine matches. Going back further though they failed to score in all seven of their away matches prior to those.

Italy’s record of clean sheets is among the best in world football. They’ve kept their opponents scoreless in six out of their last eight games and looking at just their home record only, they’ve managed to keep eight cleans sheets out of a possible 12. Among those matches they’ve managed to keep the likes of the Portuguese strikeforce and Poland’s Robert Lewandowski scoreless.

Thursday, 19.45: Italy v Northern Ireland
Sky Sports Football

Italy have to win the match by three goals for this bet to come in, something they’ve done in three out of their last six home matches. Their front players of Andrea Belotti, Lorenzo Insigne and Ciro Immobile would strike fear into any defence, and between them this season they have a combined total of 38 goals between them. They’ll be eager to get the Azzurri off to the best possible start here and the odds are pretty good considering all three of those strikers are in peak form.

Ciro Immobile Italy Netherlands September 7, 2020

Football tips: Our 15/1 BTTS acca for Thursday’s international matches

Italy to Win & Over 2.5 Goals

There’s little doubt in the market that Italy will take the three points on offer here. As mentioned above their strikeforce is full of goals and experience at the top level in Italian football and are all scoring for fun at the moment in the Serie A.

For all of Northern Ireland’s heart and courage among their ranks they just don’t have the players in their squad who are used to coming up against such top quality strikers when playing for their respective clubs. Only three of Northern Ireland’s defenders play in the Premier League and most of their midfield either plays in the English Championship or the Scottish Premiership. Northern Ireland’s bad form isn’t just going to go away either; no doubt they’ll defend like spartans but Italy’s experience should see them getting a few goals and make it a long night in Parma for Ian Baraclough’s Northern Irish side.

Ciro Immobile to Score Two or More

Ciro Immobile only played four of Italy’s games in 2020 thanks to an injury. He did, however, score three goals over his four appearances. Lorenzo Insigne also played four last year, scoring three as well. Andrea Belotti scored four in his seven in an Italian shirt last year. This bet really comes down to who manager Roberto Mancini starts with. He’s been loyal to Belotti, and why wouldn’t he be, so he’ll surely start. The better odds though are with Immobile and Insigne.

As mentioned, both have scored three over their last four for the national side and in the league Immobile has scored 14 in 25 with an additional five in five in the Champions League. Insigne has 13 in 24 for Napoli but has failed to score in any of his eight Europa League matches. This should see Immobile getting the nod and with him in such mighty goal-scoring form we like the look of his odds to get two goals or more here.

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at the time of publication but subject to change

Italy v Northern Ireland bet summary – Thursday, March 25

Italy -2
Italy to Win & Over 2.5 Goals
Ciro Immoble to Score Two or More

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