For the first time in nearly 30 years, the champions of UEFA and CONMEBOL will meet with a trophy on the line as Italy and Argentina face off Wednesday in London. Known as the Artemio Franchi Cup in 1985 and 1993, the game is now known as the Cup of Champions or Finalissima. Kickoff between the Euro 2020 and Copa America winners is set for 2:45 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Wembley Stadium in London, England.
Italy and Argentina last met in 2018, a 2-0 win for Argentina. All-time head-to-head, Italy have six wins to Argentina’s five and the teams have five draws. Italy made it to this game by knocking off England in penalty kicks, at Wembley, last summer while Argentina won the Copa America for the first time since 1993 with a 1-0 win over Brazil. It’s time to take a closer look at both teams and see how they arrive to this matchup so you can bet against their Soccer Odds.
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Italy Looking for Redemption
This is a busy start of a two-week gauntlet for the Italians, who will not play in the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The last time we saw Roberto Mancini’s squad, they beat Turkey 3-2 in a friendly, days after stumbling at home to North Macedonia in the World Cup playoffs. With the Nations League starting this week, Italy will play Argentina, Germany, Hungary, England and Germany again in a 13-day span.
Italy’s win over Turkey in late March is their only win in the last four games and they are 3-2 with six draws in their last 11 games, including two draws at Wembley in the Euros. They did win both of those games in penalty kicks after 1-1 draws. Italy allowed just four goals in their seven games at the Euros last summer but have scored just once in their last three competitive games.
Mancini has some lineup injuries to deal with this month as Ciro Immobile (ankle), Federico Chiesa (knee), Gaetano Castrovilli (knee) and Domenico Berardi are known to be out. Wednesday will be the 117th and final Italy game for legendary defender Giorgio Chiellini and he will not participate in the upcoming Nations League games.
Look for Gianluigi Donnarumma to start in goal, protected by Chiellini, Emerson, Leonardo Bonucci and Giovanni Di Lorenzo. Jorginho, who’s missed penalty again Switzerland in November partially kept Italy from the World Cup, starts in midfield with Marco Verratti and Nicolo Barella. Look for Lorenzo Insigne to get the nod up top, along with Nicolo Zaniolo and possibly Gianluca Scamacca.
While Italy are missing Immobile and Chiesa’s combined 19 goals in international play, Insigne has 10 goals while Andrea Belotti has 12. Zaniolo just scored to win the Conference League for Roma last week and the 23-year-old Scamacca had 16 goals this year for Sassuolo.
Messi Leads Argentina to Wembley
It took 28 years for Argentina to win a Copa America and they’ve had some near misses in the World Cup as well with Lionel Messi on the squad. Now they finally have a major international trophy and play for another one, leading up to the big prize in Qatar this winter. While Italy have four pressing games coming up, Argentina will play a friendly against Estonia in Spain on Sunday and then return home for a break,
Under manager Lionel Scaloni, Argentina are unbeaten in 31 straight games since a 2-0 loss to Brazil in the 2019 Copa America semifinals on July 2, 2019. They gave up just three goals last summer at Copa America and allowed only eight goals in 17 World Cup qualifiers. Argentina’s stingy defense has allowed zero or one goal in 18 straight games.
The only real question mark to the typical starting lineup on Wednesday is defender Cristian Romero. The Spurs center back missed three months of the season with a hamstring injury and then suffered a hip injury upon his return in May. If he is not available, look for German Pezzella to get the start instead, alongside Marcos Acuna, Nicolas Otamendi and Nahuel Molina in the back four.
Aston Villa’s Emiliano Martinez will be in goal for his 17th cap. Look for Guido Rodriguez, Rodrigo de Paul and Giovani Lo Celso to lineup in midfield. That leaves superstar Messi in the attacking three, alongside Angel Di Maria and Lautaro Martinez.
Messi has 81 goals for Argentina in 160 caps while Di Maria has 24 goals, including the winner against Brazil last summer. Martinez scored 21 goals for Inter Milan in Serie A action this season and has 19 career goals for his country. Paulo Dybala, who had 10 goals for Juventus this year, is another option for Scaloni.
At MyBookie, Argentina is the favorite at +155. Italy is +190 and a draw is +210. Since this is a cup game, there will be penalties if the game is tied after 90 minutes but there will be no overtime. Over 2.5 goals is +138 and under 2.5 goals is -178.
PICK: Argentina 2, Italy 1. (Argentina +155)
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