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Italy have the tools to turn playoff tie around

Attacking approach can help Azzurri reach Russia

Italy's Lorenzo Insigne made a big difference after coming on as a substitute in Stockholm
1 of 1

World Cup playoff second leg
Sky Sports Football, 7.45pm Monday

Italy are in a sticky situation after their 1-0 loss to Sweden in Stockholm on Friday but they have qualified for the last 14 World Cups and can reach Russia 2018 by winning the return leg at the San Siro by more than one goal.

Failing to score an away goal at the Friends Arena was a major blow and Italy could have few complaints after starting the game slowly and failing to create enough when chasing the game late on.

The Italian preference is to get in front and fall back into a solid defensive shape but they have shown an ability to pick up their pace in recent times.

In their World Cup qualifying group they came from behind to post a 3-2 victory away to Macedonia, scoring twice inside the last 20 minutes. And they recovered from an early deficit to triumph 2-1 away to Holland in a friendly in March this year.

Azzurri manager Gian Ventura went with a more offensive line-up for the last 15 minutes in Stockholm, replacing midfielder Marco Verratti with Napoli winger Lorenzo Insigne, and Sweden were on the back foot towards the end.

The Swedes can expect to come under pressure from the off at a noisy San Siro and may struggle to cope.

They sustained three away defeats in their qualifying group, going down 2-1 in France, 3-2 in Bulgaria and 2-0 in Holland, and don't tend to travel well against the big teams.

Italy are 25-1 shots for glory at Russia 2018 and can no longer be considered to be among the global elite having exited the last two World Cups at the group stage.

However, they have a fantastic record in competitive home matches, not losing any of the last 44 going back to a 3-2 loss to Denmark in September 1999.

An impressive 36 of those matches (82 per cent) were won by the Italians and 21 (48 per cent) were won by a margin of two goals or more.

Sweden's chances would improve considerably if they can muster an away goal but they lack quality up front and there was a touch of good fortune about their goal in the first leg as Jakob Johansson's shot took a deflection off Daniele De Rossi before flying past Gianluigi Buffon.

It was one of only two shots the Swedes had in the second half, while Italy improved over the course of the game, posting one shot in the first period and nine in the second.

Italy's predicament means they will need to chase the game in a controlled fashion but they have an excellent insurance policy with Buffon between the sticks and rock-solid defensive trio Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci in front of him.

Sweden, who have mustered just one clean sheet in their last five away matches, are likely to crack at some stage and from that point it would be hard not to fancy Italy to kick on.

Recommendation
Italy -1 on Asian handicap
1pt 51-50 bet365

Bet on this game at Soccerbase.com


Team news
Italy
Marco Verratti is banned after picking up a yellow card in the first leg on Friday. Simone Zaza (knee) missed the match in Stockholm but may return to contention.

Sweden
Mikael Lustig is available after suspension and may replace right-back Emil Krafth, who picked up an injury towards the end of the first leg. Midfielder Albin Ekdal is another doubt after coming off with an injury.

Key stat
Italy are unbeaten in their last 44 competitive home fixtures.


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Italy are unbeaten in their last 44 competitive home fixtures
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