International Friendly Betting: Italy v Brazil


Switzerland is the appropriate neutral ground for Thursday's clash of the titans, which pits Italy against Brazil. With Italy looking to prepare for a World Cup qualifier against Malta and Brazil hoping to iron out a number of tactical problems before the Confederations Cup, this one has all the makings of an exciting battle.

Team news

After Luis Fabiano and Ronaldinho disappointed in Brazil's loss to England, Luiz Felipe Scolari is likely to ring the changes. Fred is in contention to get the nod up front, while Kaka could return to the midfield alongside Oscar. David Luiz could be drafted in to lend some solidity to the midfield, meanwhile. Italy welcome new faces Mattia De Sciglio, Alessio Cerci and Luca Antonelli to a youthful looking squad. Mario Balotelli's recent form makes him a good bet to start in attack alongside Milan team-mate Stephan El Shaarawy, although Daniel Pablo Osvaldo - who is suspended for the Malta tie - will presumably see some game time.

Form

Italy haven't won since October, their two most recent matches resulting in a loss to France and a draw with the Netherlands. In fact, their form has been patch since the final of Euro 2012, with their only wins coming against modest opposition. The same could be said of Brazil, who thrashed Iraq and Japan but looked out of sorts at Wembley.

Head-to-head

These sides last met way back in 2009, when Brazil cruised to a 3-0 win in the Confederations Cup. Italy may have a chance to avenge that defeat later this year when they travel to Brazil for the pre-World Cup bash, but history is not on their side: they haven't beaten the South Americans since a certain match back in 1982...


Goalscorer betting

Neymar may have flattered to deceive against England (he NEVER does it in the big games, etc), but his international record of 17 goals in 28 games is hard to fault. The Santos youngster is available at 2.7 to net at any time. Fluminense forward Fred is a fox in the box and looks great value for the opener at 6.75 if he starts. For Italy, Balotelli (6.75 to score last) is in great nick, as is Milan colleague Riccardo Montolivo (5.5 anytime), who likes a shot from range.

Verdict

Both sides will be keen to boost fitness levels and confidence, albeit for slightly different reasons. Brazil may be more committed given their lack of competitive fixtures, but the quality and match sharpness of Italy should ensure they finish strongly. The draw looks the smart pick at 3.25, while Brazil/Draw HT/FT is a good outside bet at 16.00.

Bonus bet

Both teams have scored in seven of Italy's last nine games. The same can be said of Brazil's last three. Back a repeat at 1.83.

Score prediction: Brazil 1-1 Italy (6.25)