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Italy can capitalise on Cristiano Ronaldo absence against Portugal

| 16.06.2015

Two of Europe’s footballing giants, Italy (6/5 favourites to win with Coral) and Portugal (19/10), square-up for a tasty friendly clash in Switzerland, but there is still much to play for and prove, with neither side completely content after the previous Euro 2016 qualifiers.

For the Azzurri, it will be a time to experiment after drawing against Croatia despite dominating last time out, and Antonio Conte’s team are 21/10 to end on even terms again, having split the spoils in all of their past three outings.

That said, the Italians have not lost any of their last nine games, and boast a fine record of 18 wins to four against the Navigators, including six straight successive victories in as many of their last duels.

Conte experimented with a 4-3-3 against the Blazers, and could do so again here, as Argentina-born Franco Vazquez aims to capture a second cap. Having struck 10 and provided 11 assists for Palermo in Serie A this season, the adaptable playmaker is a fantastic 13/5 in the anytime market.

Out-of-favour Borussia Dortmund attacker Ciro Immobile (6/1 to draw first blood), plus AC Milan young-gun Stephan El Shaarawy (13/2 to net last) and Southampton poacher Graziano Pelle (23/10 in the anytime market) should all get their chance to shine too, as fairly recent new boys on the block at international level, with just 27 caps between them.

For Portugal, meanwhile, Pelle’s Saints clubmate Jose Fonte is expected to keep his prolific teammate quiet, though the Azzurri will breather a sigh of relief in the absence of number one Gianluigi Buffon, as Navigators superstar Cristiano Ronaldo will not play, having been given an early break.

How Portugal will fair without their talisman, who hit all three goals in their recent battle against Albania, in which they conceded two, remains to be seen.

With several prodigious Portuguese starlets such Sporting Lisbon midfielder William Carvalho and Monaco winger Bernardo Silva headed to the Czech Republic for the UEFA Under-21 Championship, they will likely not be risked either, leaving the Navigators without much spark.

Soccer - International Football - Portugal Squad Training Session - Stadium of Light - Lisbon

Manchester United-owned wideman menace Nani (8/1 to open the scoring) will still be on hand to challenge Italy’s rearguard, however, as will Porto trickster Ricardo Quaresma (10/3 to be on target anytime) and Monaco playmaker Joao Moutinho (13/2).

Coral’s top betting tip: Back Italy and Portugal @ a tasty 21/10 to draw



Holly Thackeray

Holly is a member of the content team, and can often be found on the sports desk writing about favourite topics Serie A and East Asian footballing nations. A recent darts convert, she is also a fully-fledged member of Barney's Army and a proud Leeds-born Manchester United fan.