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The 2022 Finalissima Preview - Italy v Argentina

The Finalissima has been reborn with European champions Italy meeting their South American counterparts Argentina in a clash of the continents at a sold-out Wembley.

Twenty-nine years have passed since Uefa and Conmebol last sent their respective continental champions into battle for one-off glory.

Back in 1993 it was known as the Artemio Franchi Cup and was won by Argentina on penalties against Denmark, while eight years earlier in Paris it was France who landed the honours with a 2-0 win over Uruguay.

For the third instalment of this inter-continental showdown, taking place on Wednesday evening, the Azzurri are 19/20 to lift the cup, with La Albiceleste 4/5.

Azzurri hoping for Wembley inspiration

Roberto Mancini's Italians are 2/1 to win in 90 minutes, with Argentina 6/4 and the draw a 21/10 chance.

There is no extra-time, just straight to penalties, with the outcome decided in the Azzurri's favour by a shoot-out available at 9/2.

The idea of a penalty shoot-out at Wembley won't, of course, fill Italy with dread - after all, less than a year ago they were being crowned champions of Europe on that very stage thanks to their shoot-out success against England.

And they'll be hoping that being back at Wembley will provide a source of inspiration at the end of a fairly rotten 12 months for them.

The Azzurri had the world at their feet after belatedly claiming Euro 2020 glory, but since then it's all gone wrong.

Dropped points against the likes of Bulgaria and Northern Ireland meant they missed out on automatic qualification for the World Cup.

And in the play-offs they were stunned at home by North Macedonia meaning they have failed to qualify for back-to-back World Cups.

Scaloni's Abilceleste in flying form

Argentina, in contrast, can do very little wrong under Lionel Scaloni, who in four years at the helm of the Albiceleste has remarkably lost just four matches and boasts a handsome 61 per cent win rate.

They are unbeaten in three years, the highlight of that period coming last July when they beat Brazil in their own back yard to lift the Copa America, silencing an admittedly small crowd at Rio's famous Maracana with a 1-0 win courtesy of Angel di Maria's first-half goal.

Qualification for this year's World Cup could not have been more routine, Scaloni's side securing their place in Qatar after a 0-0 draw with Brazil last November, with six of their 18 fixtures still to play.

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Farewell to Chiellini

Both coaches have announced strong squads for the Wembley showdown.

Mancini has unveiled a 39-man group with the Finalissima preceding a quartet of Nations League matches, including two games against Germany.

They will be playing five games in 14 days at the end of a busy season, so Mancini may not field his strongest side in this game.

However, one man who will definitely turn out is Giorgio Chiellini, their defensive veteran, who will make his 117th and final appearance on what will be an emotional night for the Juventus stopper.

Federico Chiesa is injured, but another Euro 2020 star, Leonardo Spinazzola, could make his international return after almost a year out.

Lionel Messi captains a super-strong Argentina side who don't have a fixture list to juggle. This is just one of two matches they are playing, the other being a friendly against Estonia in Pamplona on Sunday, 5th June.

Goal glut unlikely

There is a prize on the line and both Uefa and Conmebol have given this fixture as much clout as possible in the build-up, while Wembley promises to be rocking.

But it's still a glorified friendly at the end of a long and gruelling season for pretty much anyone who's going to be involved and there's a real sense that both sides will just be going through the motions.

Seven of Italy's last ten competitive matches have produced two goals or less, while both teams have scored in just two of Argentina's last ten. Unsurprisingly then, under 2.5 total goals is 4/7, while both teams not to score is priced at 8/11.

Messi heads first-scorer betting at 4/1 and wouldn't it be fitting if Chiellini, the gnarled old master in the art of stopping attackers, bowed out with a yellow card at 7/2, something that would almost represent a badge of honour for the 37-year-old.

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