The top two teams in Group C will lock horns for a crucial battle on Friday night, as Italy welcome Switzerland in their penultimate World Cup 2022 qualification fixture.
Both sides are assured of at least making the playoffs, but first position is still open for discussion, with the pair collecting 14 points from their six matches in the section thus far
Italy suffered disappointment in the UEFA Nations League last month, losing 2-1 to Spain in the semi-finals of the competition, although they did beat Belgium 2-1 four days later to secure a third place in the finals.
The Euro 2020 winners have not been in World Cup qualification action since beating Lithuania 5-0 on September 8, with the result following back-to-back draws against Bulgaria and Switzerland at the start of the month.
Italy have won four and drawn two of their six matches in this section, scoring 12 times and conceding just once in the process, which has left them top of the group with two games left, but they are level on points with Switzerland entering Friday’s huge qualifier in Rome.
Roberto Mancini’s side will finish their Group C campaign away to Northern Ireland on Monday, and it would be a surprise if they did not manage to secure first spot in the section, particularly considering their status as the reigning European champions.
Italy incredibly failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, though, and they were also eliminated in the group stage of the 2010 and 2014 editions of the tournament, having struggled to compete since famously lifting their fourth World Cup in 2006.
Switzerland, meanwhile, enjoyed a strong October in terms of World Cup qualification results, beating Northern Ireland 2-0 and Lithuania 4-0 in the space of three days to ensure that they would be level on points with Italy entering Friday’s clash.
A-Team enjoyed a relatively successful Euro 2020 campaign, reaching the quarter-finals of the competition, overcoming France in the process, with Spain knocking them out in the last eight via a penalty shootout.
Switzerland also reached the knockout round in the 2014 and 2018 World Cups, being eliminated on both occasions in the round of 16, which was also the case in the 2006 edition of the tournament.
Murat Yakin’s side have also won four and drawn two of their six Group C matches to collect 14 points, and a win over Italy on Friday would put them in a strong position to secure first spot in the group ahead of their final qualification fixture at home to Bulgaria on Monday.
Switzerland have not beaten Italy in any competition since May 1993, although four of the last five meetings between the national teams have finished level, including a 0-0 in this section in September.
Italy World Cup Qualifying – Europe form:
Italy form (all competitions):
Switzerland World Cup Qualifying – Europe form:
Switzerland form (all competitions):
We say: Italy 2-1 Switzerland
Switzerland are more than capable of picking up a positive result on Friday, but the visitors will be missing some huge players for this match. We are expecting this to be a tight match between two strong sides but believe that Italy will just have enough to pick up a vital three points on home soil.