Italy can guarantee themselves second place in Group G and a berth in the qualification play-offs for the 2018 FIFA World Cup by earning just a point at home to Macedonia on Friday.
A convincing victory for the Azzurri will likely be demanded by manager Gian Piero Ventura to keep faint hopes alive of overhauling Spain in top spot.
However, La Roja are unlikely to concede the three points and numerous goals necessary in their final group games against Albania and Israel.
Here are the current group standings ahead of the final matches of qualifying, per FIFA World Cup:
#WCQ ⚽️🏆 @FIFAWorldCup
#WCQ | Group G (EUROPE) 🇲🇰FYR Macedonia 1-1 Albania🇦🇱 🇮🇹Italy 1-0 Israel🇮🇱 🇱🇮Liechtenstein 0-8 Spain🇪🇸 https://t.co/YycPhVq0Qa2017-9-5 20:56:42
Read on for a preview of Italy's clash with Macedonia, along with scheduling and viewing details.
Date: Friday, October 6
Time: 7:45 p.m. BST, 2:45 p.m. ET
TV Info: Sky Sports Red Button (UK), FS2 (U.S.)
All Italy can do in their final two qualifying group matches against Macedonia and Albania is win well and put in a pair of fine performances.
In the last round of qualifying matches back in September the Italian side followed a 3-0 defeat to Spain—which effectively ended their chances of automatic qualification to next year's tournament in Russia—with an underwhelming 1-0 home victory over Israel.
In the reverse fixture between Italy and Macedonia in Skopje almost exactly a year ago a late Ciro Immobile double saw the Azzurri to a 3-2 comeback victory.
The Lazio striker will be crucial again on Thursday as Italy look to pick up all three points at the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino.
Immobile is in flying form for his club side, per Squawka:
Squawka Football @Squawka
Ciro Immobile has now scored 13 goals in 10 games across all competitions for Lazio this season. Another penalty tucked away. https://t.co/IvBogivG5w2017-10-1 14:47:00
Macedonia will likely sit deep and look to soak up Italian pressure, but the hosts should have more than enough to breach any rearguard action.
If Immobile and his fellow attackers can break the deadlock early Italy will be in with a good chance of claiming the heavy victory they will likely want.
After the defeat to Spain and the disappointing nature of the Israel victory, a confidence-boosting rout of Macedonia could be invaluable.
During the current qualifying campaign the Azzurri have beaten only Lichtenstein by more than two goals.
Given their stature in the game the Italians need to be putting away smaller teams with greater ease.
Macedonia are ranked No. 103 in the world, with Italy No. 17, per FIFA. Anything other than a convincing win for the hosts on Friday will be counted a disappointment.