Prepare your soccer pick for Thursday’s international friendly match between European soccer heavyweights Italy & Netherlands in Stadio San Nicola in Bari, Italy as clubs get in their final tuneups for the coming Euro 2016 qualifications which begin on September 7.
Gli Azzurri and head coach Antonio Conte are always known for their stellar defense and with goalkeeper and team captain Gianluigi Buffon holding down the fort on defense and Andrea Pirlo running things in the midfield, Italy is always a tough matchup for any club, be it in a friendly like this or a serious competition and opponents always seem to have problems getting into any kind of offensive groove against the Italians.
The Hosts Are Decent-Sized Favorites in This One
Italy are the logical favorites (with soccer odds at +130, BetVictor) over Netherlands (+210) in this match with the Draw being priced at a value-laden +225. And with this game being absolutely meaningless, considering betting on a tie to be the outcome makes a great deal of sense in a contest where Italian manager Conte and Netherlands manager Guus Hiddink will want to use more as serious practices and not get any precious players injured before the European Championships.
Netherlands Always a Fun Side to Watch
Always a formidable opponent, the Oranje, which face the Czech Republic in their Euro 2016 qualifiers opener on September 9—have a diverse blend of talent on the roster, including familiar faces Robin van Persie (Manchester United), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich), Wesley Sneijder (Galatasaray) and Rafael van der Vaart (Hamburg), the latter who returns to the team after missing the World Cup. Newcastle United’s Tim Krul will likely be the goalkeeper, but this is just a friendly and starting XIs are much more of a mystery than they would be for a regular league game or a match in a tournament.
Netherlands should push the pace a little bit more than the Italians, but with this game only being a friendly and so close to Euro qualifying play, and, at the end of a long, hot summer, winning and scoring probably won’t be put at a premium by either squad. In short, this is a hard game to back a side with all of these factors.
The Italians Hold the Edge in the Series
In 18 international competitions between these two nations, the Azzurri hold a 7-8-3 edge and have outscored the Dutch, 23-19 in the process. and with a total of only 42 goals in those previous meetings, you can see that scoring in slightly below average (2.33 goals per game) so, using that and the general apathy by both teams and the reality that all of the players will be coming off club games this weekend, the Under 2½ seems like a good play but this is a friendly and nobody cares so honestly taking either side or trying to figure out the Total seems difficult without motivation suspect.
The Italian roster is loaded with experience and besides the aforementioned Buffon and legend Pirlo (112 caps, 11 goals), Conte has strikers Mario Balotelli (33 caps, 13 goals), Antonio Cassano (38 caps, 10 goals) and Borussia Dortmund youngster Ciro Immobile and attacking midfielders Daniele De Rossi (97 caps, 15 goals), Alberto Aquilani (35 caps, 5 goals) and Claudio Marchisio (47 caps, 4 goals) so this team will be well-equipped for both this contest as well as coming Euros.
Is There Any Way to Safely Approach this Friendly?
The best way to probably attack this match is through the perceived value in the Draw line and using the Draw No Bet line with either Italy (-150 Coral) or Netherlands (+110), depending on your own perspective of how they’ll come out and play. Three of the last five meetings, including the last one (1-1), have been Draws, so the Draw (+229, BetVictor) for a modest amount would be the only way I could see approaching this along with possibly even a smaller soccer pick on a 1-1 Correct Score (+500, 5/1, Coral) just for fun and potential value.
But until the Euro 2016 qualifiers actually start next week, we will only see what the managers chose to show us and it’s important to remember in games like these that managers are extremely careful with their stars as the last thing they want is an injury to occur, translating to a slower tempo and less quality target on goal. At least that’s the working theory.
Prediction: Italy 1 Netherlands 1
Free Soccer Pick: Draw +229 (BetVictor)