Our prediction for this World Cup 2022 match:
Italy play host to Northern Ireland at their Stadio Ennio Tardini in the opening match of their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign. The Azzurri are eyeing their fourth consecutive win in all competitions, and they are seen as hot favourites to win Thursday’s clash. Rafael Toloi has received his first call-up for the national team, while Inter players Alessandro Bastoni, Nicolo Barella, and Stefano Sensi are subject to the measures put in place by local health authorities.
The Green and White Army, on the other hand, do not seem to be at the top of their game, with the team failing to win the previous ten games in all competitions. Considering that Italy are a real force to be reckoned with at home, we predict that Northern Ireland are going to return to Belfast empty-handed. Leicester defender Jonny Evans has overcome his injury. Kyle Lafferty should be fit to face the Italians as well.
Highlighted Player (Marco Verratti):
Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti is the creative force of the French champions and a world-class professional even though he is only 23. Deemed one of the most talented Italian players of the new generation, Marco Verratti began his career in Pescara, his home town club, from which he was directly transferred to PSG much to surprise of the general football community.
Technically gifted playmaker was snapped by Les Parisiens in 2012 in front of Napoli, Roma and Juventus in a five-year deal worth €12 million. Marco Verratti has since gone to become a key member for the French champions already surpassing the 100-game mark for PSG.
The 23-year-old playmaker is a player of great vision and awareness, very calm and composed on the ball. His passing skills are impressive often compared to Italian legend Andrea Pirlo’s. Despite his diminutive figure Marco Verratti is not afraid to get in duels and participate in defence duties which make him an all-rounder and great influence in every segment of the play.
Highlighted Team (Northern Ireland):
Competing first under the Irish flag and then as an independent entity, Northern Ireland are one of world’s oldest national teams, but they haven’t enjoyed too much success in history. Led by Danny Blanchflower, the Irish impressed at their first ever World Cup finals appearance, reaching the quarter-finals in 1958, but they have since only played at the 1982 and 1986 tournaments, reaching round 2 and crashing out in the group stage respectively.
Northern Ireland had failed to qualify for 13 successive European Championship finals before finally booking their ticket to the Euro 2016 in France, and the fans hope this success will only be a sign of things to come. Without a doubt, George Best is the most famous footballer to have ever put on the green shirt, scoring 9 goals in 37 appearances, but he couldn’t help the national team close the gap behind Europe’s top sides.
Some of the other high-profile footballers include Pat Jennings, Aaron Hughes, David Healy, Keith Gillespie, Steven Davies and Gareth McAuley.