With the 2026 World Cup quickly approaching taking place in Qatar in November, bookies are preparing for one of the biggest sporting events in the calendar often only being rivalled by the Olympics, and many of the big team hopefuls have already progressed through the qualifiers as odds and favorites already start to emerge with France and Brazil topping out the lists – but the most recent upset could knock some bookies anticipations on their head.
Following their win at the 2020 Euro event, Italy would’ve went into the World Cup as one of the favorite teams having looked very strong throughout the tournament but the failure to qualify early was a signifier that their path to the international stage may not be as easy – having already lost out on the chance to compete in 2018 too there was a lot riding in Italian success – with their fixture against North Macedonia at home too, they were the favorites going in, at 1/6 to win it was almost assured success, but earlier qualifying games ending in a tie when it should have been a clear victory also led to some fears that the Italians wouldn’t be able to return to the good form of 2020.
The game was able to speak for itself, however, despite losing all three games in the Euros last summer and having looked stronger since, North Macedonia were able to hold on throughout the full 90-minutes of regular game time against an Italy which many expected would have too much quality – at 16/1 underdogs it really was a huge challenge for the team, away from their home ground, and at such high stakes too – but heading into additional time with the game being even, Trajkovski was able to put one in the back of the Italian net and secure the victory for North Macedonia. Italy had 32 chances at goal with only 5 being on target, the majority of possession and 16 corners too, leaving that expected quality to be desired with an abysmal performance.
It’ll throw the World Cup betting odds into a spin though – it’s somewhat now secured that Portugal will be able to make it through to the event after their 3-1 victory over Turkey and will now meet North Macedonia in the finals of qualifying, but Italy would’ve been one of the more favored teams at the event but will miss out instead – it may also increase the chances for other squads like the UK which had just fallen short on penalties in the summer finals.