Big Match Breakdown: England v Italy
Three Lions look to build on Dutch win
England continue their World Cup preparation by hosting Italy tonight at Wembley.
Gareth Southgate’s men were impressive in Friday night’s 1-0 win over the Netherlands, and will look to continue that form this evening.
Victory in Amsterdam took England’s unbeaten run to seven games, and they’ve played Germany and Brazil in that spell.
As for the Italians, they’re looking ahead to a tournament-less summer, and have struggled for form of late.
Here’s all the key info for tonight’s game…
Head to Head
England and Italy first met in 1933, and the Azzurri lead the head-to-head record 10-8.
The Italians also have the upper hand in recent times with a penalty shoot-out win in the 2012 European Championships, before a 2-1 win at the World Cup two years later.
England won a friendly 2-1 in 2012, and claimed a 1-1 draw in Turin three years ago.
Southgate is expected to make more changes this evening as he continues to work out his best XI.
Jack Butland will start in place of Jordan Pickford, while Jamie Vardy may be given a run up front with Marcus Rashford dropping to the bench.
Joe Gomez started on Friday but has since returned to Liverpool to nurse an injury. Harry Maguire came on for him in Amsterdam and may get the nod here above James Tarkowski and Alfie Mawson.
Dele Alli and Eric Dier could feature in the midfield after starting on the bench on Friday. Southgate may also choose to stick with Jesse Lingard after the forward’s impressive turn against the Netherlands.
The Italians are in a state of flux but old heroes Gianluigi Buffon and Leonardo Bonucci started their 2-0 loss to Argentina in Manchester.
Buffon’s heir Gianluigi Donnarumma is set to start between the sticks tonight and Antonio Candreva is poised to come in for Federico Chiesa.
Italy may not be going to the World Cup, but they remain as defensively sharp as anyone, so this will be an excellent test for England’s forwards.
Vardy’s pace and movement will be Italy’s biggest concern. And that in turn means the battle to supply the Leicester City striker is key.
England’s central midfield partnership will need to be on-song to pick out the angles and pass their way through the Azzurri.
As for England’s defenders, they’ll need to contain Ciro Immobile, who is enjoying a sizzling season for Lazio. Torino hotshot Andrea Belotti could also cause problems with his hustling approach and physicality.
Both teams have netted in each of the last three and four of the last five meetings, and there’s 21/20 about each side grabbing a goal tonight.
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