The Italians will welcome Israel at Reggio Emilia, looking to register a win after a humiliating 3-0 defeat against Spain.

After the disappointing 3-0 defeat in Madrid, Italy will cruise towards the second position and hope for the best in playoffs. Anything other than a victory against Israel will definitely hamper their hopes of progressing further. Italy’s apparent disarray is something will have to fight through since the stakes are high at this point.

The Azzurri need three points to consolidate second place in Group G behind Spain and stay safely clear of third-placed Albania as they look to make it to the finals in Russia next year. The visitors, on the other hand, are clinging on to any hopes of World Cup qualification after being subjected to defeat by Macedonia 1-0 in Haifa.

Unexpectedly, Goran Pandev brought the victory to the Macedonians so Israel had to register their fourth home defeat. In fact, their frustrations boiled over as disgruntled Eran Zahavi reacted to being booed by the crowd by throwing away his captain’s armband.

When they travel to Italy, Israel will be hoping to play for pride, more than anything else. The Hard Tackle takes a look at both teams ahead of their encounter.

Team News and Tactics


Italy have called up Davide Zappacosta to bolster their defensive options for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Israel. They need a reinforcement at the back after Saturday’s 3-0 defeat to Spain in Madrid saw Leonardo Bonucci booked, meaning he will be suspended against Israel, while Leonardo Spinazzola suffered a late injury.

Zappacosta will immediately join up with Italy for training in preparation for the game in Reggio Emilia. Head coach Gian Piero Ventura was already without Juventus star Giorgio Chiellini, and will be hoping the new Chelsea man does a good job at home. Meanwhile, Donnarumma could replace Gianluigi Buffon in the goal.

With just one automatic qualification spot, we were always going to see either Italy or Spain in the playoffs, and now a three point gap has opened up with just three games remaining. Hence, even if Italy manage to beat Israel on Tuesday, it certainly looks like they will face the uncertainty of a playoff.

The talented trio of Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne, and Andrea Belotti are set to lead the attacking efforts, with Gianluigi Buffon captaining the side and Daniele De Rossi and Marco Verratti among the midfielders for Italy. Attack will prove to be a vital component against Israel since an early lead can prove to be crucial.

Predicted lineup (4-4-2): Donnarumma; Zappacosta, Barzagli, Astori, Rugani; Candreva, De Rossi, Verratti, Insigne; Belotti, Immobile. 


Veteran midfielder Yossi Benayoun is still on the hunt for his 100th cap, whilst Eran Zahavi will captain the visitors. Brighton striker Tomer Hemed will be pushing for a start after being resigned to the bench against Macedonia.

Israel, drawn in Spain and Italy’s group, were never likely to make it to Russia next summer. However, many were expecting a much better performance from them, and at the moment they will be lucky if they finish in the top four of this six nation group.

Saturday night saw them lose at home to Macedonia, following on from a 3-0 thrashing at home to Albania, to make it four games without a win. Prior to that they won three games in a row, but their overall form is very worrying.  Israel’s only hope was increasing their FIFA coefficient against the smaller teams, but that did not work out.

Away from home they have won two, drawn one, and lost five of their last eight games, losing by two or more goals in all five of these defeats. This clearly shows how poor their defending has been and that will be cumbersome against a strong attacking side like Italy.

Predicted lineup (4-3-3): Harush; B.Bitton, Tzedek, Ben Haim, Tawatha; Natkho, Cohen, Refaelov; Zahavi, Benayoun, Hemed.

Key Stats

  • Italy have won three and drawn two of their four meetings with Israel, with all three of these victories being by at least a two goal margin of victory.
  • The defeat against Spain was Italy’s first loss in either World Cup or European Championship qualifying since September 2006, a run of 56 matches.
  • Back in September 2016, Italy beat Israel 1-3, as Chiellini earned a red card in the 55th minute back then, but despite being down to ten men, Italy managed to save their net and score the third in the process.


Italy 2 – 0 Israel

The hosts have won their last four home games in a row, scoring a huge 18 goals and keeping a clean sheet throughout. Hence, an Italian victory seems highly likely against a drastically out-of-form Israeli side. Italians are the absolute favorites in this outcome, and anything other than the victory would be a stunning result.

Following a poor performance in Madrid, their coach will certainly experiment with the squad in order to find the optimal formation and tactic as the one used in Spain failed miserably. A clean sheet will be the target for the defence, but also scoring as much as possible can boost Italy’s confidence further.

Thus, The Hard Tackle predicts a strong 2-0 victory for Italy to make up for their embarrassing loss against Spain.

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