Six Nations 2016 Betting Preview: England vs Italy
Cupid's arrow might be flying this Valentine's Day for the romantics out there, but for rugby fans, it's a ball that'll be flying on February 14, when England takes on Italy for Six Nations 2016.
Kicking off at 2:00pm GMT at Rome's Stadio Olimpico, the latest Six Nations match will not only present another chance for England to edge further ahead in the rankings, but it will be Italy's first home game of the tournament.
Love in Rome for Italy on Valentine's Day
Despite an inevitable wave of support for Italy inside the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday, the odds makers don't seem to be sharing in the affection. According to the latest outright betting markets at William Hill Sports, Italy are 500/1 to win the Six Nations, while their English opponents are leading the way at 5/4.
While the betting markets' current stance will be unwelcome news for Italy supporters, the odds don't always tell the whole story, and it's often worth delving into some additional data.
Numbers Paint a Bleak Picture for Italy
Unfortunately, in this case, Italy's outlook doesn't look any more promising when you consider the team's current situation as a whole. The World Rugby Rankings may have marked the team as eighth best in the world, but this pales in comparison to England's impressive third ranking.
And in the last Six Nations clash between England and Italy, it was England who triumphed spectacularly, taking the match 47 points to 17. Considering this previous form, it seems unlikely that England will lose their 100% win record over the Italians any time soon.
Another crucial thing that seems to have tipped the odds against Italy is the team's inconsistent performance during the last round of Six Nations action. Despite putting in a brave performance against the French, Italy eventually finished the match on the wrong side of 23-21 score line. In contrast, England looked solid against Scotland and did enough to retain the Calcutta Cup for the eighth time by scoring 15 points to nine.
England the Favourites
As we've seen, there are various factors behind the top bookmakers' lack of love for Italy this Valentine's Day. Over at Ladbrokes Sports, you can currently get 7/1 on Italy for the match and 1/12 on England. For a touch more value on Italy (if you're confident of an upset) Betway Sports is offering 9/1 on the outsiders and 1/12 on England for the win.
And, if you want to bet that Italy are favourites for something during the 2016 Six Nations, then there's Paddy Power Sports' 1/8 wager on the team to finish bottom. Finally, the handicap market could tempt you in with odds of around 10/11 at most bookies on an Italian win if England start on -16.0 points.
Chance of an Upset?
Could Italy really beat England in the 2016 Six Nations, against the odds? In reality, the chances are slim, but that doesn't mean the home side should be written off completely. Home field advantage certainly has an effect in sport, and with the best part of 72,000 supporters cheering them on, Italy could feasibly cause an upset.
Either way, it's unlikely to be an easy game for England. Italy's men competed tirelessly with France right until the final whistle last time out, proving that they can bite down on their gum shields and slug it out with one of the best teams in the world. From an odds perspective, there's certainly more love for England in this Six Nations clash with Italy. Nevertheless, with emotions bound to be running high this Valentine's Day, anything could happen.
To get in on the pre-match betting action, head over to William Hill Sports before the 14 February start!
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