After experiencing contrasting fortunes in their respective World Cup qualification campaigns at the weekend, Netherlands play host to Italy in an international friendly fixture in Amsterdam on Tuesday night.
The Azzurri continued their solid progress on the road to Russia with a comfortable 2-0 home win against Albania on Friday, but the Dutch suffered a damaging defeat; Danny Blind’s charges were beaten by Bulgaria and, as a consequence, the former Oranje international was sacked the next day. Netherlands have plenty of work to do if they are to avoid the agony of missing out on a second successive major tournament.
Italy have a poor record away from home in non-competitive matches; indeed, the Azzurri have claimed just two wins from their last 15 friendly matches away from home – a sequence of results that includes a 1-1 draw between these two nations back in 2013, but Tuesday's visitors have a hugely impressive record in this fixture, having lost just one of the last 12 matches between the sides.
Giampiero Ventura’s side are chalked up as Betfair Sportsbook’s 6/4 (2.50) favourites to heap yet more misery upon their opponents by coming out on top of this tussle, while the same firm go 21/10 (3.10) that the match remains all square.
Interim coach Fred Grim will be hoping for a positive reaction from his side to Saturday’s setback in Sofia, but Netherlands have won just one of their last eight matches on home turf; 13/8 (2.63) is available that the Dutch claim a morale-boosting victory from this fixture.
There have been goals at both ends in all but one of Netherlands’ last nine friendly fixtures and there is 11/10 (2.10) that the trend continues when this rivalry is renewed in Amsterdam, with 13/10 (2.30) that more than two goals are scored – a selection that would have landed in each of Italy’s last six away matches, excluding the Azzurri’s participation in the European Championship last summer.
With nothing at stake, this fixture may lack the intensity that would normally be expected in a clash between these two proud footballing nations, but there is significant pressure on the home side in the wake of that bitterly disappointing defeat in Sofia on Saturday.
Whether the Netherlands are capable of a rousing response, however, is questionable and the Azzurri could chalk up their first away win in a friendly fixture since 2011 by defeating the Dutch in Amsterdam.
Italy are unbeaten in six games and Ventura’s team, brimming with belief, could offer decent value for punters at 6/4 (2.50) ahead of Tuesday’s tussle.