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Italy Spain Betting Tips – Champs Use Midfield Strength To Roll Over Beleaguered Italians

Posted by Todd Shale on 6/7/2012 3:02:17 PM

Italy’s online betting odds may have been doomed from the start thanks to a match-fixing scandal which led to police raiding their training camp, and that can’t be helpful as they prepare to take on the defending European Champions from Spain in the Group C opener. Spain has too much skill through the midfield for Italy to grab a vital win.

What: Soccer Betting
When: Sunday, June 10th, 12:00 PM ET
Where: PGE Arena, Gdansk, Poland
Pick: Spain

Why Bet On Italy

On the pitch, manager Cesare Prandelli has the Italians playing more attractive football, and their star player should be midfielder Andrea Pirlo, who had a fantastic season with Juventus at 33 years old, and he’ll set the pace for the attack. The midfield will have to grab some goals because up front, Italy has a few questions. Giuseppe Rossi didn’t travel with the team because of injury, while Antonio Cassano is still returning to his best after heart problems throughout the season. That leaves the mercurial Mario Balotelli, who could score a hat trick or pick up a straight red card: he could do both in the same game and no one will be surprised. At the back, goalkeeper Giunluigi Buffon has the armband and is the undisputed leader of a defense that was fantastic during qualifiers, but doesn’t have that much experience overall. Giorgio Chiellini has 50 caps for the national team, the most among defenders on the Azzuri squad, and he’ll have to combine with Buffon to lift the defense in this crucial opening game.

Prandelli has bigger fish to fry off the pitch as Italy has been ravaged by a match-fixing scandal that has some wondering if they should even be at this tournament, or if they should cancel their league action until the situation is under control. The Italians have dropped three friendlies in a row heading into Euro 2012 and you have to believe that this scandal has disrupted the preparations of the team. Prandelli’s biggest concern will be keeping his players focused this summer due to everything that has happened outside of the camp.

Why Bet On Spain

Spain’s own success is their largest hurdle as the Euro and World Cup champions are loaded with players that have been playing a lot for their club teams, which are Barcelona and Real Madrid with a little Chelsea sprinkled in. Goalkeeper Iker Casillas is the captain and will have his teammates from Madrid in front of him, led by Sergio Ramos as Barca’s Carlos Puyol is out and Gerard Pique struggled all season. In the midfield, Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, Juan Mata and David Silva all played a lot of football and went through spells of poor form, but at least there are a number of options for manager Vicente del Bosque. Up front is where the manager has to figure out a solution as Fernando Torres looks like he’ll lead the line, but he hasn’t done much for Chelsea and could be on his way out. With David Villa on the sidelines with a broken leg, he may be Spain’s best striking option, although Fernando Llorente will get a look. Spain’s second squad would probably win this group, which is a testament to their depth.

But del Bosque has to keep the team fresh and motivated heading into Euro 2012, where they have a chance to be the first country to win three consecutive major tournaments. As was mentioned before, Spain could be a victim of their own success as their players have been throughout a lot for both club and country over the last four years, and there comes a time where they just hit a wall. Spain’s depth in midfield is their saving grace and it is always good to have a world-class keeper like Casillas at the back as he can cover for a lot of mistakes, but keep an eye on the Spanish armada throughout the tournament as fatigue could be a factor.

How It Will Play Out

Spain, the soccer betting favorites to defend their title, come into this match as a -140 favorite over the Italians, who are rated at +360 and a draw is listed at +265. Italy actually has the upper hand over Spain with 11 wins and 10 draws in 29 meetings, including a 2-1 victory in an August friendly. But that was before the national team was almost folded because of the scandal and you can’t underestimate how important this is.

Italy can either play relaxed with no expectations or they can continue to let it weigh on the team, and if you give Spain an inch, they’ll take a mile. Unless they get a monster of a game from someone like Balotelli, Italy doesn’t have much of a chance against Spain, whose midfield should run the show. Go with the defending champs in your sports betting picks.

Italy Spain Betting Pick: Spain


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