Spain favored over Italy in crucial World Cup qualification matchup
First place on the Group G table will be on the line Saturday when Spain plays host to Italy in a crucial UEFA World Cup qualifying contest as a -120 favorite on the betting lines.
The recent form of these two European soccer powerhouses leaves them perfectly matched going into Saturday’s game at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid. The two sides sit deadlocked atop the Group G table with identical 5-1-0 records, and have each claimed four straight victories in World Cup qualifying action.
Despite their recent winning ways, Spain has been less than dominant in its past two outings, back in June. La Furia Roja escaped with a 2-1 win over Macedonia as -850 chalk in a qualifying matchup, and was forced to settle for a 2-2 draw with Colombia in a friendly on home turf.
However, the Spaniards have remained nearly unbeatable in World Cup qualifying for over two decades, going undefeated in a stunning 59 matchups dating back to 1993. Spain has outscored opponents by a 21-3 margin in its six qualifying matches, earning the squad a place among the 2018 World Cup betting favorites with +800 odds.
The lone blemish on Spain’s record during this World Cup qualification cycle remains a 1-1 draw with Italy as a +156 road favorite in October of last year.
Italy will be gunning for a fourth clean sheet victory in World Cup qualifying as it enters Saturday’s clash in Madrid as a +340 underdog. The Azzurri handed Liechtenstein a 5-0 beating as -10000 chalk in their Group G matchup in June, following up on an earlier 4-0 victory over the Blues-Reds, and claimed a surprisingly close 2-0 win over Albania as -455 chalk in mid-March.
With those victories, Italy now owns an impressive 15-4-2 record in qualification and tournament play since making a shocking exit in the group stage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, lifting it to a respectable +1600 on the 2018 World Cup championship odds.
The Azzurri have also held a slight edge in their recent meetings with Spain, recording a win and a pair of draws in their past three meetings, including a 2-0 victory as a +380 underdog in the Round of 16 at the 2016 European Championships, a contest in which they were dramatically outplayed by the Spaniards.
However, Italy has enjoyed little success in recent road dates with Spain, going 0-3-8 in 11 visits since its last victory, a 3-1 win in a friendly back in 1949.