North Macedonia take on Italy on Saturday evening (19.45) at the Tose Proeski Arena in Euro 2024 qualifying, as Luciano Spalletti begins life as Azzurri manager.
Igor Angelovski’s side lost 7-0 against England last time out, while Italy’s most recent international outing saw them beat the Netherlands in a Nations League third-place playoff.
North Macedonia defender Visar Musliu missed his side’s seven-goal humiliation against England through suspension, but is available to feature here.
However, Darko Churlinov is out through injury alongside Valon Ethemi and Marjan Radeski.
Domenico Berardi and Gianluca Scamacca are absent for Italy, while Gianluigi Donnarumma looks set to keep his place between the sticks.
Lazio defender Nicolo Casale has been rewarded with his inaugural call-up to the national team, and his club teammate Ciro Immobile is expected to lead the line on Saturday.
Italy to win to nil @ 9/10
Roberto Mancini’s final few games in charge saw Italy lose their famed defensive resilience, conceding two goals in four of their last five games.
However, as a new era gets underway the back line will be the cornerstone of any success and against a poor North Macedonia front line, Spalletti’s new-look defence will undoubtedly be looking to protect a clean sheet, which is why I’m tipping Italy to win to nil.
North Macedonia shipped seven goals against England, and lost 3-2 against Ukraine prior to that – in fact, they have conceded 11 goals in their last three matches.
Interestingly, North Macedonia stunned Italy 1-0 in Palermo last year in the qualifying playoff semi-final for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, but I can’t see there being another upset here.
Italy should have too much quality for their opponents this weekend, and can get off to a winning start under Spalletti.
Federico Chiesa to score anytime @ 7/4
Chiesa is enjoying a fine start to the season for Juventus, and was on the scoresheet in Italy’s 3-2 Nations League victory over the Netherlands back in June.
He’s scored twice in three appearances for Juve and I think 7/4 is decent value for him to find the net anytime here.