Match Preview: Armenia vs Italy

The European Qualifiers are back this weekend and Armenia welcomes Italy today at 18:00 (CET) in the round opener.

Italy’s national football team will be looking to maintain their perfect qualifying record when they visit Armenia in Group J.

The Azzurri have four wins in four games so far with a goal difference of 13-1. A win in Yerevan would see them take a big step towards the UEFA EURO 2020.

Armenia, on the other hand, sits in third with six points. They began their qualifying campaign with two straight defeats, but won their last two qualifiers, including a 3-2 win in Greece in their most recent outing.

Team news

The hosts will be able to welcome back defender Andre Calisir, who missed their last two games when he got married back in June.

Their captain Henrikh Mkhitaryan leads a squad, following his move to AS Roma on the Deadline Day of the summer transfer market.

Italy will be without their most experienced defender Giorgio Chiellini who underwent knee surgery and is out at least until early May.

Bryan Cristante and Lorenzo Insigne, who scored in both games in June, have also withdrawn injured, while Fabio Quagliarella and Moise Kean were not on Roberto Mancini’s call list.

Talk to the press

Italy coach Roberto Mancini believes Armenia could certainly cause some problems to the Azzurri, with their greatest strength being in their attacking line.

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โ€œOur objective from the start was to qualify as soon as possible. Weโ€™ve done well so far, there can be difficulties after a four-month break and some players wonโ€™t be at 100 percent physically, but these are two fundamental games for qualification.

โ€œArmenia mainly play in leagues that started some time ago, have enthusiasm after their victory in Athens and will know Italy have always had problems here.

โ€œWe cannot think that weโ€™re going into an easy game, because there is no such thing. Armeniaโ€™s greatest strength is in the attack, as they have four very good strikers with different characteristics, so that is where we must be wary,โ€ Mancini said at his press conference.

Stats

The two sides have only met twice before in competitive matches, in the 2014 FIFA Wolrd Cup Qualifiers, with Italy registering a win and a draw.

The Azzurri are on a winning streak of five games in a row. Four of those games came in the European Qualifiers, while the first one was in a friendly encounter with the United States.

On the road, however, Italy has only two wins since October 2017, noting four defeats and a draw in the process.

Armenia has three wins in their last five home games. They were beaten in the other two outings, including a shocking 1-0 defeat to Gibraltar.

The Azzurri are aiming to qualify for their seventh consecutive UEFA EURO, while Armenia is looking to make their first appearance at the European Championship.

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