Bulgaria - Italy Betting Preview: Why the Azzurri should be backed for victory

Phil Kitromilides believes Bulgaria's poor home record and Italy's confidence after Euro 2012 will mean a win for Cesare Prandelli's side on Friday
These two sides have had contrasting summers, with Bulgaria taking an unwanted break thanks to their failure to qualify for Euro 2012 and Italy surpassing many people's expectations to reach the final of the tournament. The Italians begin their bid to qualify for the World Cup in two years' time with a trip to Sofia, and William Hill price a win for Cesare Prandelli's men at 73/100 (1.73).

This appears to be a tempting price with the Italians unbeaten in a World Cup qualifier since 2004. Bulgaria meanwhile can be backed at 9/2 (5.50) while the draw is offered at 23/10 (3.30).

Indeed, analysing the statistics only serves to make backing an away win more of an attractive option. Bulgaria have not won a competitive fixture at home for five years. Their last competitive home match saw them defeated 1-0 by Wales, and a recent friendly win against Netherlands aside, their results have been generally poor. 

The last time these two teams met in Bulgaria four years ago, Italy were held to a goalless draw but since then the Italians have progressed enormously and the Bulgarians, if anything, have gone backwards. 

The price of 73/100 (1.73) is perhaps a tad bigger than might have been expected given Italy's current status as European Championship runners up. When you also take into consideration Bulgaria's woeful showing at home of late, it looks worthy of some investment.

In terms of a value bet, backing over 1.5 goals in the first half appeals at 12/5 (3.40). This bet has paid out in each of the last three matches Italy have played and with the Azzurri boasting a host of attacking talent, they are more than capable of being involved in a high-scoring first half.

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Italy to win at 73/100 (1.73) with William Hill
Over 1.5 goals first half at 12/5 (3.40) with William Hill

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Phil Kitromilides is a sports broadcaster working on radio and TV in London and Madrid. You can also follow Phil on Twitter.