Competition: International Friendly – Italy vs. England
Venue: Juventus Stadium, Italy – Tuesday, March 31 – 19:45 BST
Match Odds: Italy 6/5 – Draw 23/10 – England 23/10
England face Italy in Turin on Tuesday night in what is a blockbuster friendly to cap off the international break for the Three Lions.
These two nations have established quite a rivalry over the years. This is a fixture that saw David Beckham captain England for the first time and also saw Paul Ince wear a bloodied head bandage in that famous 0-0 draw in Rome that clinched qualification for the World Cup in 1998 for England.
It’s a fixture that has seen the nations meet four times in major competitions, including last summer’s World Cup as the Italians sealed a 2-1 victory against England in both sides’ opening games.Embed from Getty Images
But it was a disappointing summer in Brazil for both teams as they crashed out of the World Cup in the group stage behind Uruguay and Costa Rica in Group D.
Italy are coming into Tuesday’s game off the back of a 2-2 draw away in Bulgaria on Saturday in their European qualifier, keeping up their impressive record of going unbeaten through their last 45 qualifying fixtures, dating back to 2006.
Debutant Eder scored a late equaliser in Saturday’s draw in Sofia and the Azzurri are now two points off top spot in Group H, behind leaders Croatia who they play next in Zagreb on June 12th.
Italy’s preparation for the match has been hampered by reported death threats towards manager Antonio Conte. They came after midfielder Claudio Marchisio picked up an injury in training which was said to rule him out for months but that has now been confirmed as weeks. Another blow for Italy is that Gianluigi Buffon missed the Bulgaria match with flu and is a doubt to face England.
For Roy Hodgson, everything is looking fantastic in the Euro 2016 qualifiers after another win left them on 15 points with 15 goals scored following their 4-0 demolition of Lithuania at Wembley on Friday night.
England’s very own debutant Harry Kane scored on his debut for the Three Lions and he could start for against Italy on Tuesday.Embed from Getty Images
England play Slovenia in their next qualifier on June 14th, and a win against the Italians will only keep boosting the confidence with the team hungry for future success.
England have seen some of their squad from the Lithuania match either head back to their clubs or pick up injuries that have ruled from out of the match against the Italians but the remaining members of the team will want to impress against one of Europe’s top sides.
Italy will definitely be without Claudio Marchisio and Andrea Pirlo, while doubts linger over Daniele De Rossi and Gianluigi Buffon. Southampton striker Graziano Pelle will be pushing to start in attack.
For England, Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck, Leighton Baines and James Milner will miss the trip. Ryan Bertrand has been called up as a replacement for Leighton Baines. After his impressive goal on Friday, Tottenham’s Harry Kane will be hopeful of forcing his way into the England starting eleven alongside Wayne Rooney, who needs just two goals to match Bobby Charlton’s all-time England goalscoring record.
Italy’s last five: W/W/D/W/D
England’s last five: W/W/W/W/W
Key Stat: In 25 matches between the two nations, there has only been three 0-0 matches so we should see goals in Turin.
Key Player: Wayne Rooney – The England captain is just two goals away from Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record for England. He came agonisingly close to equalling it against Lithuania as he had multiple chances in front of goal. His confidence will be sky-high and he could cause the Italians problems.
Italy 1-2 England – Without Pirlo pulling the strings for Italy, they lack so much creativity and that will be a huge boost for England. The Three Lions’ forceful attacking could lead to a goal or two and Hodgson will expect to see his side gain revenge for their 2-1 loss in Brazil last summer