You would think that a pre-World Cup match between Argentina and Italy could be a preview of one to come down the road. However, on March 23rd in Manchester, Italy will be looking towards the future as they’re not going to Russia this summer, while Argentina will be.
What To Know About Italy
Italy finished second to Spain in their qualification group, and needed to go to a playoff against Sweden. They lost 1-0 in Sweden in the first leg and then drew 0-0 at home in the second leg, and Italy will miss out on the World Cup for the first time since 1958. Obviously, there was a mass overhaul as Gian Piero Ventura was fired as manager, their president resigned and a slew of players retired from the team, including captain and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffo. Giorgio Chiellino, Andrea Barzagli and Daniele De Rossi also retired, which means there will be new blood coming in for Italy, who scored 21 goals and allowed eight in qualification. Ciro Immobile scored six goals for Italy, while Andrea Belotti added four, but Italy still needs more in attack. However, the back of the team might be the bigger question as the retired players have been mainstays for years. Buffon retires with 175 appearances, the most in Italian history. Italy has called up four keepers in the last year and they have a combined five appearances. And they also need a manager as Luigi Di Biagio is only temporary.
What To Know About Argentina
Argentina finished third in their federation to make it to Russia, scoring 19 goals and allowing 16. Lionel Messi scored seven goals to lead the team, and he scored all three in a 3-1 win in Ecuador in a must-win qualification game for his country. However, there should not be this much pressure on Messi to carry the team. Angel Di Maria was injured at the last World Cup, so he has to stay healthy. Ssergio Aguero hasn’t scored in a match that has meant something for his country since the 2015 Copa America. Argentina are very good at the back, and Messi is still one of the top two or three best players in the world. But he tired under the load he had to carry at the last World Cup, which Argentina lost in the final to Germany, and Di Maria and Aguero have to figure out a way to take some of the pressure off their captain.
Argentina will likely be favored as the home team, even though the match will be played in England. These two have each won twice in their seven meetings, along with three draws. The last came in August 2013 as Argentina won 2-1 in Italy, and this will be a very different game as Argentina should know who they’re taking to Russia and what kind of style they’re going to play. Don’t expect to see Messi for 90 minutes; he’ll likely play 45 at most. Italy has more pressing issues as they have to look to the future, which starts with Euro 2020.
There are a number of interesting international games coming up. If you’re looking for odds on the international friendlies, check out Play Shangrila to get the odds for matches, props and betting lines to win it all!