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|Match Result and Over 2.5 Goals||Odds|
|England and No||+230
|Draw and No||+285
|Italy and No||+700
Gareth Southgate’s side can kick-start their Nations League campaign, but this is unlikely to be a high-scoring thriller.
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There are two schools of thought concerning the England national team right now. The optimists argue that Gareth Southgate has done a fantastic job since taking charge in 2016, and that he deserves backing despite a poor start to the 2022/23 Nations League (England suffered a shock 1-0 defeat by Hungary on matchday one, before drawing 1-1 with Germany last time out). They contend that Southgate has shown he is the right man for the job by guiding England to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and the final of the European Championship last year.
There is another group of England fans who have a different view. No one could reasonably argue that Southgate has done badly since he was handed the reins following Sam Allardyce’s short-lived tenure. But they believe his tendency towards caution makes him a bad fit for this group of England players. His in-game management has come in for criticism. Some supporters also charge that Southgate has not given the team a true on-field identity.
England will enter the 2022 World Cup as one of the favorites to triumph. It will not be easy to beat the likes of Brazil, France, Germany, Spain and Argentina to the trophy, but the Three Lions deserve their status as one of the main contenders. Yet the mood around the national team has taken a hit after that loss to Hungary in particular. A big performance is needed on Saturday to convince England fans that this side really is capable of going all the way in Qatar.
The biggest shock in the European section of World Cup qualification was Italy’s failure to make it. Their second-place finish behind Switzerland in the group phase was surprising enough, but virtually no one saw a play-off semi-final defeat by the minnows of North Macedonia coming. Confidence within the camp was damaged further when Italy were soundly beaten by Argentina in the Finalissima at the start of this month.
Italy’s present position at the summit of the Group A3 standings has improved matters slightly, but no one in the country will be getting carried away by the 2-1 victory over Hungary last time out. It is clear that Italy’s confidence remains fragile and Roberto Mancini will be desperate for his side to register a statement win against strong opposition like England or Germany, the team that completes this group.
Mancini has been using the Nations League as an opportunity to take a look at squad members that might not ordinarily start in high-stakes matches. It will be interesting to see what sort of team he selects for this game against England. Having taken four points from the first six available, the Azzurri now have something to hang on to. Qualifying for the Nations League Finals would not make up for their World Cup failure, but it would be a decent tonic.
Unlike their upcoming opponents and several major European nations, England tend to play their matches at the same ground: Wembley Stadium in north London. That has always felt like a shame. The national team represents the whole nation and it would surely be fairer if different venues shared hosting rights. It is not as if England lacks stadia with large capacities, with good options in the likes of Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle.
Wolverhampton has been handed a rare opportunity to host a Nations League double-header in the coming days, with Wolves’ home ground set to be used for Tuesday’s game against Hungary too. Before that, England will be looking to avenge their defeat by Italy in the final of Euro 2020 last summer. That match was technically a draw, but it did not feel that way for Southgate’s side after their painful penalty shoot-out loss.
The final finished 1-1 and we could be in store for another encounter featuring two goals or fewer. As discussed earlier, England are not the most adventurous of teams under their current manager, while Italy will adopt a more safety-first approach than usual as Mancini looks to rebuild confidence following the European champions’ failure to make it to Qatar.
There will not be much to choose between the sides this weekend, but home advantage and their need to win could give England the edge. Back a Three Lions triumph and under 2.5 goals.
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|England vs Italy Information|
|Teams||England vs Italy|
|Location||Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton, England|
|Time||Saturday, 11 June 2022, 2.45 PM EDT|
|How to watch||fuboTV|
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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