An early group J final
Finland welcome continental powerhouse Italy to Tampere (wherever that is) in what is a somewhat early group final with Italy in first and Finland in second only separated by 3 points. Will the Finnish catch up or will the Italian's pull away?
The Finns are coming off the back of a very strong and well-deserved 1-0 victory at home to Greece with none other than Premier League star Teemu Pukki scoring yet again, this time from the penalty spot.
Finland has never beaten Italy before but they have seldom been this good either so this is their chance to really show what they go for. They are currently on a 4-game winning streak and are undeniably in very high spirits, their goal difference of 7-0 in said games is another indicator that they are becoming very hard to beat.
A fun fact (if you are not Finnish) is that Finland has never qualified for a World Cup or Euro's but boy are they close at the moment. They are 5 points ahead of Bosnia in 3rd and it feels a bit like this is their golden chance, with 15 points left to play for a lot can happen but if they manage to snatch a point from Italy my money is on Finland qualifying for a maiden European Championship.
Mancini's men suffered an early scare away at Armenia but managed to pull themselves together and ran out 3-1 winners after goals from Belloti and substitute Pellegrini. In all honesty, despite going down 1-0 in the early stages of the game Italy never looked like they were not leaving with 3 points, they dominated play on all parts of the pitch and looked very dangerous going forward.
This new-look Gli Azzurri side looks very exciting and well-balanced indeed with a good mix of technical brilliance in players like Bernardeschi and Chiesa together with Grit and a superior passing ability in Verratti and Jorginho. Not to mention their high-profile backline consisting of Bonucci, Romagnoli and Donnarumma.
After a few years of anonymity and bad spells resulting in missing out on last summers World Cup for the first time in god knows how long Italy look to be back on track. They have amassed 5 wins out of 5 possible so far and Finland will need to come up with something special to keep the Italian's from making it 6 out of 6.
Finland are a tough nut to crack when at home but this Italy side has impressed quite a bit, they won the reverse fixture with 2-0 limiting the Fins to a solitary shot on target and i think this game will play out the same way which is why i will be backing an Italy win and clean sheet at 7/5 with Bethard.