Even by the outrageous standards of the Italian national team, it is shaping up to be an utterly staggering week for the Azzurri as Euro 2012 draws ever closer.
One police raid, one serious earthquake and a postponement later, Cesare Prandelli will be praying that his players can finally focus on a Friday evening friendly clash with Russia.
Given that it will by Italy’s sole warm-up match before they open their Euro 2012 campaign against Spain (after a friendly match with Luxemburg in quake-struck Parma was cancelled), the Italian players should be raring to impress their coach.
An odds-against 6/5 punt on Italy to win in neutral Switzerland looks decent value on paper, as a bet on Italy in the tumultuous shadow of match-fixing and natural tragedy is a bet on the morale of their squad in the face of adversity.
Azzurri teams are famously robust when things go haywire behind the scenes – as shown by the 1982 and 2006 World Cup wins against the background of the Totonero and Calciopoli scandals respectively.
Marcello Lippi’s famous squad of six years ago were distinctly more experienced than the current crop, though, so should Italian heads drop, other three-way bets could be a bargain.
With just eight days to go until the start of the tournament in Poland and Ukraine, Dick Advocaat’s Russia are shaping up to be a tough nut to crack, going unbeaten in as many as 13 matches.
After two Russian friendly draws in a week – against Uruguay and Lithuania – an 21/10 gamble on another sharing of the spoils stands out.
New customers registering with bwin can receive a free £25 bet and placing this on Italy and Russia to draw will bring returns of £77.50 if successful.
The price of 12/5 on a Russian win is long but might not attract too much interest against a superior Italian side, despite their chaotic preparations.
Russia’s strikeforce were hardly in sparkling form in a drab 0-0 draw against Lithuania on Tuesday – reportedly in front of as many as six fervent Lithuanian fans.
The two sides enjoyed comfortable qualifying campaigns founded on steely defensive efforts, Italy conceding just two goals in their ten qualifiers and Russia just four.
With that in mind, a 9/5 bet on Friday’s match featuring less than two goals therefore looks an attractive alternative option for punters who don’t fancy backing the draw outright.
Recommended bet: Italy and Russia to draw @ 11/5
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