Italy will face the Netherlands without their sole proven international goalscorer following Antonio Conte’s decision not to select Liverpool’s Mario Balotelli.
Sure enough the clown prince of Palermo is suspended for the upcoming European qualifying match against Norway.
But so is Conte’s trusted Juventus lieutenant Claudio Marchisio, who is nonetheless in contention for a game against the Oranje.
Instead the greenhorn national-side boss looks to Mattia Destro, Stephan El Shaarawy, Simone Zaza, Fabio Quagliarella and Sebastian Giovinco for goals.
Between them they have struck eight times in a combined 57 appearances for the nation Garibaldi built – hardly inspiring confidence they’ll end a miserable recent run of form.
Victory over England in their World Cup opener was their sole success in the last ten games.
Goals have been an issue too, with the opposition stopper beaten more than once in just one of their last five home games.
Denied their most lethal marksmen, they look squeamish 5/2 jollies to best the Netherlands, who have tasted defeat just once in 13 matches beyond their borders.
The draw is rated an 11/5 bet by the bwin odds gurus but, in the absence of 13-goal/33-cap Balotelli, the 9/5 about victory for Guus Hiddink’s men looks a hell of a way to make a living.
On the back of four clean sheets in their last five games, the Oranje will be fearfully hard to penetrate, making them an intoxicating 1/2 double-chance investment.
With a Bari-based backyard bagelling in the offing thanks to Dutch defensive inscrutability, the razor-sharp Memphis Depay is primed to help the visitors dig for victory.
Returning from the World Cup with the bit between his teeth, he’s helped himself to eight goals in seven outings for PSV so far this term.
Meanwhile, for punters in search of greater reward for their exploitation of Conte’s decision to put Balotelli on ice, the 4/1 about Dutch triumph in a match of under 2.5 goals appeals.
The Italians may have forgotten the way to the honey jar, but they have been stoic in their recent losing ledger, allowing the opposition no more than two goals in each of their last 15 outings.