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Italy vs Sweden – can Italy reach the 2018 World Cup?
When this draw was made for the 2018 World Cup play-off, Italy were considered the major favourites to win over two legs and reach the finals which are taking place in Russia next June and July. However unless they can pull something special out of the bag on Monday night then they will become the most famous name not to reach the biggest tournament. They lost 1-0 on Friday in Sweden but the second game is taking place at their home in Rome.
Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has suggested that he will retire from the game after a fantastic career after the 2018 World Cup, so if the Blues are knocked out of the tournament on Monday then that would potentially be he his last ever competitive national team game. Despite being a goal down, it would still represent a shock of Italy did not reach the World Cup finals – they won the trophy in 2006.
If Sweden score an away goal in Rome then Italy would have to score three times to make sure that they are in the draw for the World Cup group stages. Manager Giampiero Ventura will have to choose whether or not he wants to go into the game attacking or defensively. He ahs players at his disposal to do either. For example, Andrea Belotti and Leonardo Bonucci are two of the finest players in Europe when in form.
Sweden also have lots of strong individual talent, so Italy will be taking their threat very seriously. Jakob Johansson scored in the first game to give his team the advantage, and in the qualifying process his team performed well to show that they are not easy to beat. In Group A they were four points behind France, but they were strong enough to knock out the Netherlands.
For some fantastic odds, why not try the bookmaker Tipbet – they have a great supply of odds and markets for this fixture. A winner will be difficult to choose and Sweden are 1.80 to get through, which is slightly more likely than their opponents (1.85). There are also odds for the other World Cup play-off, the Republic of Ireland against Denmark.
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