Jack Lang is expecting another attritional encounter in Milan on Monday night as Italy attempt to turn around a 1-0 deficit against Sweden...
Italy v Sweden
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Do or die for Ventura
The game may have taken place at the Friends Arena, but Giampiero Ventura found himself plunged into a world of enemies after Italy's loss to Sweden on Friday night. The former Torino boss - far universally popular even before that wretched performance - has been the chief scapegoat for a defeat that leaves the Azzurri in danger of failing to qualify for a World Cup for the first time in 70 years.
Ventura may point to bad luck: Sweden's goal was fortuitously deflected into the net, after all. But Italy were so lifeless, so short on inspiration that there will be an inquest into his stewardship even if his charges do turn the tie around in Monday's return leg. And if they fail to get the required result in Milan? Well, he should probably start looking at houses abroad.
Italy must do without Marco Verratti (suspended) and Daniele De Rossi (struggling for fitness), so the midfield will be weakened here. Roma favourite Alessandro Florenzi and Napoli's Jorginho are expected to stand in, while there could be further changes in attack. Most Italians are keen for Lorenzo Insigne to play from the start, but the contrarian Ventura is reportedly considering opting for Manolo Gabbiadini instead.
More of the same for visitors
Sweden have been able to observe their opponents' crisis from a position of relative strength, Jakob Johansson's strike and a vital clean sheet having put them in the driving seat in this tie. It was a victory for collective spirit: Janne Andersson's side is low on household names but has plenty of grit, which they showed in the first leg.
Andersson is unlikely to make widespread changes to his side, although the return of Celtic defender Mikael Lustig - suspended for the game in Solna - could prompt a minor reshuffle at the back. There is also a chance that one of the strikers will be sacrificed to provide some more manpower in midfield, with Johansson the obvious candidate for a berth after his heroics last week.
Italy too short to consider
Italy are 1.55 favourites to win in 90 minutes, which seems a touch generous given how lacklustre they were on Friday night. On the one hand, it would be a surprise if they were that disjointed again; on the other, Ventura's muddle tactics have been in evidence for some time and the pressure of the occasion is hardly likely to help matters.
Sweden's away form has been inconsistent and we won't be backing them at 8.20, but there could be some value in backing the draw at 4.10.
Goals at a premium again?
The first leg panned out largely as predicted, with defences on top, and it's hard to see this game exploding into life - at least in the early stages. Under 2.5 goals is a solid option at 1.66, but a more attractive bet is the 0-0 half-time score at 6/4. Italy will be nervous and Sweden will be cautious in the extreme, so there's a reasonable chance that the sides will head into the break level.
Back 0-0 half-time score at 6/4