This leaves the Azzurri with just one friendly match to play before their Euro 2012 campaign kicks off against champions Spain - hardly ideal preparation for a team that has already suffered the distraction of match-fixing allegations against members of their squad.
The uncertainty around the camp is a far cry from Italy’s impressive form in qualification, where they won eight and drew two to finish top of the group.
Nevertheless, the Italians are still 11/10 (2.10) favourites with Sportingbet to triumph over a Russian team who are unbeaten in 13 games, with Dick Advocaat’s men available at 11/5 (3.20) to compound their opponent’s misery and emerge victorious.
Russia have drawn three of their last four matches, including stalemates in their last two friendlies against Lithuania and Uruguay.
You can get odds of 9/4 (3.25) on the two sides cancelling each other out in this encounter.
Italy were characteristically efficient in the qualifiers, managing to top their group despite scoring one goal or less in five of their ten games.
Equally, Russia’s recent form looks like it should be read in binary, with 11 of their last 14 games featuring at most a goal apiece.
The crowd at the Stadion Letzigrund should not expect a goalfest then, as neither team makes it the priority to give fans attacking football.
Only one team has scored in 10 of Italy’s last 12 and five of Russia’s last nine matches, so 21/20 (2.05) is a top price for one side to monopolise the goals this time.
If the crowd are desperate to see some goalmouth action, then they should be sure to return to their seats swiftly after half-time. Goals have been scored between the 46th and 60th minute in six of the last nine games involving Italy and Russia, so odds of 33/20 (2.65) on that happening this time could be well worth a pop.
|Only one team to score at 21/20 (2.05) with Sportingbet
||46-60th minute goal at 33/20 (2.65) with Sportingbet
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Al Hain-Cole is a Liverpool fan, experienced tipster and avid follower of European football. He specialises in accumulators and if you would like to read more from Al you can follow him on Twitter here.
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