Italy vs England: a replay of the European Championship final. But already in the League of Nations

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Italy without a legendary defensive center and an excellent attack

Following Giorgio Chiellini’s departure from the Italian national team, his years of association in central defense with Leonardo Bonucci came to an end. Now, new faces have appeared in central defense positions. Roberto Mancini has already tried different central pairings: Alessandro Bastoni-Gianluca Mancini, Francesco Acerbi-Federico Gatti and Francesco Acerbi-Alessandro Bastoni. But technicians have yet to find a permanent combination. It seems that the last link is the best option: Acerbi has a lot of experience and skills in positional defence, and Bastogne excels at getting ahead of the curve and is good at creating, ideal for a central defense role. It is curious that without Chiellini, Bonucci has yet to appear on the field at the base of the national team. Apparently, Mancini still initiates an entire generational change in the team and gives him a chance to show how young he is.

But the crisis of Italy’s invasion remains. Ciro Immobile, despite a very decent game for the club (he scored 27 goals in Serie A last season), in the national team he lost a lot in terms of quality of play and performance (for the Euro Cup, the striker did not live up to expectations and disappointed many: he scored only scored two runs). Apart from Immobile, there is rarely any relative stability in club performance. Most of their attacking players called up for the national team (except, perhaps, Matteo Politano) do not have much experience playing for the national team and are unlikely to be ready to take the field from the first minute. After all, many of the strikers who were part of Italy at last year’s European Championship did not even enter the bid this time. Andrea Bellotti started the season badly, Federico Chiesa and Domenico Berardi were injured and Federico Bernardeschi left for MLS and probably did it with a great game. In addition, this time we will not see Lorenzo Insigne on the field, his wife lost her baby after six months of pregnancy, so the striker is now with his family.

So I think that Mancini will not play against England and try to impose his football, but will try to adapt to the opponent as much as possible by leaning towards the defense.

After England – without a new star and with a youthful recovery

After the Euro finals defeat we already mentioned, England manager Gareth Southgate came under fire. Three of the five post-match penalties the coach appointed youngsters to beat: Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Sakae. None of them noticed his attempt, which was the reason for the defeat. Back then, many wondered if the young stars would break under the pressure of the public frenzy. Time has shown that the failure really took a toll on his career. Rashford moved away to Manchester United and started to recover earlier this season. After leaving Borussia, Sancho (Marcus’ partner) never recovered his former status. Even in Ten Haag, the situation has not changed much. Only Saki was able to survive this mistake painlessly: in a few years he became the best in his position in the Premier League and the absolute leader of Arsenal.

Thus, England’s world game is still defined by old faces: Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Kieran Trippier, Harry Maguire and other experienced players. However, when they are in good form, Southgate has nothing to complain about. The match against Italy will prove this once again.


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