Second-placed Italy come into this UEFA European Championship 2024 qualifier (ECQ) a sizable six points behind Group C leaders England (albeit having played one game less), and will be desperate to close that gap ahead of meeting the Three Lions at Wembley next week.
This contest against Malta looks to be the ideal warm-up fixture, especially considering the hosts have won each of their last nine meetings with the minnows, and haven’t even conceded a goal against them since way back in March 1993.
Luciano Spalletti replaced Roberto Mancini as manager over the summer and is undefeated in his opening two matches (W1, D1), but both performances were rather unconvincing against North Macedonia and then Ukraine.
Although without some key players through injuries, a demolition win here could help change the mood around the camp while giving the locals some much-craved entertainment as they’ve failed to see Italy net more than one goal in five of their last seven home matches (W3, D2, L2).
Malta have never been to a Euros finals, and that’s not going to change any time soon after five defeats from their five ECQ matches ended their already slim hopes of qualification.
Italy’s quality means another defeat is expected here, but their last visit to Italian soil in September 2015 ended in an honourable 1-0 loss, which could help inspire them to produce another competitive display.
They can source further confidence from the close nature of their recent away matches, as Malta haven’t suffered a multi-goal defeat since a 2-0 loss in Russia back in 2021.
Since then, they have had a respectable road record for a team with a FIFA ranking of 171 (W2, D1, L3), though all of those games were against teams that were outside the top 20 in the same ranking.
Players to watch for during Italy vs. Malta
Tottenham defender Destiny Udogie has received his first Italy senior call-up; his all-action style has seen him register an assist or pick up a yellow card in five of his last seven club matches.
Malta will be hoping Joseph Mbong can reignite the fire that helped him score five goals in six appearances for club and country between July and September.
There have been seven goals scored inside the opening 20 minutes across Italy’s last seven matches.
Italy vs. Malta prediction and betting tips
Prediction: Italy 2 vs. 0 Malta
- Tips 1: Italy to win
- Tip 2: Over 2
- Tip 3: Home clean sheet
Italy odds: 3/100 (1.03) – 97.1%
Draw odds: 14/1 (15.00) – 6.7%
Malta odds: 59/1 (60.00) – 1.7%