Italy-Japan Betting Preview: Expect the Azzurri to come out on top against Zaccheroni's side

The Samurai Blue coach knows the Azzurri better than most, but Al Hain-Cole expects his team to come unstuck in Recife thanks to their lack of goal-scoring prowess
Having edged out Mexico in their opening Confederations Cup clash, Italy will be looking to book their place in the semi-finals against Japan before facing Brazil in the final group game.

The Azzurri have won 16 and lost just one of their last 23 competitive fixtures, and are 8/11 (1.73) favourites with bet365 to extend that impressive record with victory this evening.

Japan are coached by former AC Milan, Lazio and Juventus manager Alberto Zaccheroni, who is available at 4/1 (5.00) to get the better of his native land in Recife.

The two sides shared the spoils when they last met in a friendly 12 years ago, and you can get odds of 5/2 (3.50) on them playing out another draw in this one.

The Samurai Blue’s talented midfield, including Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda, means they are capable of dominating possession against most teams, but they are often undone by a lack of cutting edge against the better sides.

The Asian champions have scored just 14 goals in their last 15 games, and should struggle against a side with three clean sheets in their last five, meaning an Italian victory seems to be on the cards.

With a resurgent Mario Balotelli up front, not to mention Stephan El Sharaawy's return from injury, Cesare Prandelli's men should have just too much for their opponents, and those 8/11 (1.73) odds are not to be missed on them coming out on top in this game.

Thanks to their blunt attack in open play, Zaccheroni’s men may have to rely on set pieces in order to create their best goalscoring opportunities, and Honda proved against Brazil that he can hit a mean free kick.

The CSKA Moscow man has scored 14 goals in 43 games for his country, and his expertise from dead ball situations makes him a tempting prospect at generous 15/4 (4.75) odds to grab his third goal in five international appearances.

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Italy to win at 8/11 (1.73) with bet365
Keisuke Honda to score anytime at 15/4 (4.75) with bet365

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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.