Our match prediction:
Euro 2016 semi-finalists Italy will play host to tournament’s hosts and runners-up France in a heavyweight match that is expected to be a highly entertaining clash between two Europe’s powerhouses. Giampiero Ventura took over from Antonio Conte, who took charge at Chelsea after the Euro 2016 and nee Italy manager will have a great challenge in his debut game at the Azzurri bench. Italy will open the 2018 World Cup qualifying with a trip to Israel and a win over Euro 2016 hosts will be considered a massive boost to team’s confidence. France will use the game in Italy to get back in touch with reality following their disappointing loss in the Euro 2016 final to Portugal. Eder’s goal in extra time of the final broke French hearts and dreams, but Deschamps’ men are urged to get back on their feet and use the positive momentum and team spirit to kick off their 2018 World Cup qualifiers on a high. They are in for a highly contested match against traditionally well-organised rivals and we predict a tough match between two great rivals.
Highligted Player (Buffon):
Gianluigi Buffon is a legendary Italian goalkeeper. The 191-cm-tall shoot-stopper was born in Carrara, Italy on 28 January, 1978 and he began his senior career at Parma. After making 169 league appearances for the Gli Emiliani, he joined Juventus in 2001 and he has been playing for the “Old Lady” ever since. Buffon is regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the history of football and he won seven Serie A trophies with Juve. In 2006 he helped Italy clinch the FIFA World Cup trophy as they defeated France on penalties in the title game. He managed to keep no less than five clean sheets at the showpiece tournament in Germany. Buffon set a number of records and it has to be noted that he is a goalkeeper with most number of clean sheets and penalty kicks saved in the Serie A. His mother Mara Stella was a discus thrower, while his father Adriano was a weightlifter. Gigi’s contract with Juve expires on 30 June, 2018.
Highlighted Team (France):
Recording impressive results on international stage since 1904, France are widely regarded as one of the world’s most successful national teams, with three major trophies to their name. Two of those were won on home soil as Les Bleus emerged triumphant at the 1984 World Cup and 1998 European Championships, before also winning the 2000 Euros in Netherlands and Belgium. Michel Platini, Jean Tigana, Luis Fernandez and Alain Giresse formed the “Carre Magique” during the 80’s as one of the most impressive attacking line-ups made life difficult for opposition defenders for years on end. The new golden generation appeared at the turn of the century and featured players like Thierry Henry, Zinedine Zidane, David Trezeguet and Youri Djorkaef, winning back to back major trophies to place Les Bleus back on the map. A new world-class team appears to be in the making as the likes of Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann and Raphael Varane are the pillars of the team led by Didier Deschamps. France national team now play their games at the stunning Saint Denis, or Stade de France.