Current odds:

The odds look OK currently for an ASP trade although I certainly wouldn’t want the current 18/18.5 to lay on AOHW to get any higher. 0-0 looks low enough to be a little warning of the likely defensive nature of the game and I can easily see a 0-0 at half-time situation  at least but, if we’ve learned anything from high level international tournaments, it is to expect the unexpected.

General:

Whilst being prepared is critical it is more critical (as I have often said) to have an expectation of where the game is going to go in your head. This mental preparation will then alert you should the game move in a direction you did not expect. Ultimately, we can always be thwarted whatever happens. This is a form of gambling after all. The trick is to know how you will handle anything that comes at you and so here’s some notes to help you prepare.

Some facts from the first games played by these two teams:

  1. Italy beat Belgium 2-0 and a guy from Sunderland and Pelle scored. Yes Italy have their own Pelle (OK, I know, two l’s) and he actually plays for Southampton. The big point though is this, they beat the highest ranked European team in the World according to FIFA and they beat them 2-0 and whilst I expected the possibility of a 2-1 win to Italy in that game because of Belgium’s defensive problems, I didn’t expect a result with no Belgium goal. That result suggests that Italy will be confident and ready to win again but, mathematically, they can settle for a draw and you need to always expect defensive first from Italy.
  2. Yes Belgium were alarmingly disappointing in that game and much can be said of Italy’s big contest experience versus Belgium’s which is, let’s face it, almost non-existent. That said Belgium did well at the last World Cup and I don’t think they will settle for being pushed out in the group stages – but that’s to do with another game, not this one.
  3. Clearly (to me) Italy played like a team and Belgium played like a bunch of talented individuals thrown together for the first time and when you face a team you need to play like a team, especially when that team defends like Italy. I mentioned the worries about Belgium’s defence before the game and I saw the holes whenever Italy attacked.
  4. Ireland were very plucky against Sweden in the other group game one. Sweden were disappointing and I think everyone expected more. Now Sweden know that the Italians are just as big a threat as the guys from Belgium were perceived to be. Sweden have to lift their game as a result. A draw and certainly a defeat could see them out of the competition as they have to assume that Belgium will beat Ireland.
  5. I have to conclude that Italy will play ultra defensively and will not want to risk defeat. Sweden will need to attack and take control of this game. I cannot see them being good enough to do so though.
  6. It was also apparent that Italy were very good on the break, so a Sweden team with an attacking brief could get caught on the counter attack easily enough.

A 1-0 win to Italy is my expectation. Given that Sweden must attack this game it could go to 2-0 through mistakes. The Italian defence are less likely to make mistakes than Sweden are and so you have to consider the possibility of 0-0 if Italy sit back and really play for a draw. Mistakes could be on the cards and so 1-1 is also possible. I just cannot see a Sweden win, but I’ve been wrong about games many times.