The top two teams in Group C will meet for a vital battle on Friday night, as Italy host Switzerland in the two teams’ penultimate World Cup 2022 qualification showdown.
Both sides are guaranteed of at least making the playoffs, but first position is still up for grabs, with the two outfits having collected 14 points from their six matches, so far.
Roberto Mancini’s Italy have won four and drawn two of their six matches in this group. They have netted 12 times and conceded just once in the process, which has left them top of the group with two games left. However, they are level on points with Switzerland going into Friday’s massive qualifier in Rome.
Lorenzo Pellegrini and Nicolo Zaniolo have been forced to withdraw from the Italy squad through injury, while Marco Verratti and Ciro Immobile are notable absentees for the last two qualification fixtures.
It looks likely that Federico Bernardeschi will operate through the middle for the hosts, with Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Chiesa completing the front three in the wide areas.
Jorginho and Nico Barella could be joined by Manuel Locatelli in the engine room. Meanwhile, Giorgio Chiellini should be partnered by Leonardo Bonucci at the back, with the latter available, after serving a suspension against Belgium in the last game.
As for Switzerland, Nico Elvedi, Steven Zuber, Breel Embolo, Gregor Kobel and Christian Fassnacht are all unavailable through injury, while Granit Xhaka and Haris Seferovic are also absent from Murat Yakin’s squad.
Denis Zakaria returns after serving a suspension last time out, though, and the 24-year-old should make a timely return for the visitors in midfield.
Mario Gavranović has netted 16 times in 36 appearances for his country and should operate at the focal point of the attack, with Renato Steffen and Xherdan Shaqiri also likely to feature in the forward areas.
Switzerland are more than capable of getting something from this showdown on Friday, but the visitors will be missing some key players for this match. We are expecting this to be a closely contended match between two strong sides, but Italy should just have enough to pick up a vital three points at home. Our prediction is 1-0 to Italy.