Italy v Norway – Preview: Already qualified Azzurri aim to secure top spot
Italy entertain Norway in their European qualifier on Tuesday having already qualified for next summer’s tournament in France, but know that a win can assure them of top spot in Group H.
Antonio Conte’s men were the tenth side to confirm their qualification for the tournament on the back of Saturday’s 3-1 win away to Azerbaijan.
Meanwhile the Norwegians are still in with a shout of making the tournament in France themselves as they currently sit second in Group H, but they are only two points ahead of a Croatia side who face the somewhat easier task of a trip to Malta.
Per-Mathias Hogmo’s side would likely need to take all three points against the Azzurri because even a draw for Norway would be insufficient if the Croatians win in Malta due to the head to head record between the two sides.
The Norwegians will certainly face an uphill struggle at the Stadio Olimpico as Italy have not lost a competitive home match this century.
Unsurprisingly the Azzurri also have the edge in terms of the two nations’ competitive record with Italy boasting four wins and one draw from the last five meetings. The most recent contest ended in a 2-0 win for the Azzurri in September 2014 in what was Antonio Conte’s first match in charge of the national team.
It is unknown whether Antonio Conte will decide to experiment considerably with his side now that qualification is assured. The former Juventus coach has often chopped and changed his attacking options throughout the qualifying campaign and may seek to do so again by handing a start to Toronto’s Sebastian Giovinco who came on as a substitute against Azerbaijan after forcing his way back into the national team since his move to the MLS.
Knowing that they will probably have to win Norway are likely to field their strongest eleven in Tuesday’s match at the Stadio Olimpico.
Form Guide: Italy (D-D-L-W-W-W) Norway (L-D-D-W-W-W)
Expected Starting XIs:
Italy: Buffon, Darmian, Bonucci, Chiellini, De Sciglio, Candreva, Verratti, Parolo, El Shaarawy, Pelle, Giovinco
Norway: Nyland, Hovland, Elabdellaoui, Aleesami, Forren, Tettey, Johansen, Soederlund, Henriksen, Skjelbred, Berget