Italy travel to Sofia on Saturday evening, taking on Bulgaria in their latest qualifying match, as the 2016 European Championships draw ever closer.
On the surface, it should be a straightforward encounter for Antonio Conte’s men, with almost every statistic tilting in their favour before the encounter at the Vasil Levski National Stadium gets underway.
Having taken 10 points from their opening four games, the Azzurri currently sit atop of Group H alongside Croatia and have yet to lose since the former Juventus coach took over from Cesare Prandelli. Yet the team has struggled to truly impress thus far, failing to click in the way they previously had, and the new boss will hope this current international break finally see things fall into place.
They will have to cope without the injured Andrea Pirlo, which should mean Marco Verratti is handed the keys to the midfield, and Italy will also hope to overcome the fact several of their players are in poor form. The likes of Alessio Cerci, Ciro Immobile and Graziano Pelle have endured barren spells of late, while Simone Zaza has admitted rumours of a move during the January transfer window affected his own play.
Ivaylo Petev has problems of his own however, with his team having recorded just a solitary win over Azerbaijan in their qualifying campaign thus far. They have taken just four points from the same number of matches and will be desperately hoping to steal all three points in front of their home fans if they are to have any chance of achieving qualification to next summer’s tournament.