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Preview: England vs Italy – prediction, team news, line-ups

It’s crunch time in London as England and Italy go head-to-head in a blockbuster European Championship 2024 qualifier at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday. 

Gareth Southgate’s experimental line-up squeezed past Australia 1-0 on Friday, courtesy of Ollie Watkins’ second-half winner, to make it seven games unbeaten (W6, D1). 

Since the Three Lions are one victory away from booking a place in next summer’s tournament in Germany, the heavy hitters will return to the starting XI this midweek. 

England executed partial revenge on Italy for their Euro 2020 final heartbreak with a 2-1 away triumph at the start of their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign, which hardly makes the sides even.

However, pulling off back-to-back H2H wins for the first time since 1949 could settle the score, given the visitors’ precarious position in Group C at the beginning of this round.

Luciano Spalletti’s team ran riot at Stadio San Nicola on Saturday, dismantling Mediterranean minnows Malta 4-0 to retain a runner-up spot in the group. 

There’s no time for celebration within the Azzurri camp as they sit level on points with third-placed Ukraine, albeit with a game hand, which gives them a slight edge heading into the qualifying finale. 

Don’t miss a minute of this mouth-watering encounter. Check out our live football streams to follow all Euro 2024 qualifiers from the comfort of your home.

Match Preview

Italy’s upcoming visit to the capital is undoubtedly the sternest England fixture for the rest of the calendar year, with matches against Malta and North Macedonia waiting in the wings. 

Since it’s hard to imagine the Three Lions dropping points in those two games, a victory here isn’t imperative for Southgate’s squad, but there’s no doubt they’ll be out to get one. 

It’s been 46 years since England last triumphed at home against Italy, not to mention they lost their last duel on home soil on penalties en route to the Azzurri’s Euro 2020 win.

But Southgate’s side have excelled on home turf recently, racking up an eye-catching ten clean sheets across their last 12 Euro qualifying home outings. 

Following a 2-0 defeat in 1977, the Italians have gone unbeaten in six consecutive games on English soil (W3, D3), which gives them every reason for optimism ahead of this trip. 

However, Italian football has been under scrutiny these past few weeks, with Premier League aces Sandro Tonali and Nicolo Zaniolo landing in the centre of an illegal betting maelstrom

Both players had pulled out of the Italy squad before the Malta clash, but their absence against England could derail the visitors’ chances of improving their indifferent five-game form on foreign turf (W2, D1, L2).

Given the circumstances, Italy may even settle for a point, and since they held the Three Lions to a tepid 0-0 draw in last summer’s Nations League showdown here, that’s not a pipe dream.

Team News

After returning to the England line-up from a long-term injury with a decent half-an-hour appearance, John Stones could start at the heart of Southgate’s backline alongside Lewis Dunk on Tuesday.

Jordan Pickford, Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham, Phil Foden and Harry Kane will likely regain their places in the starting line-up, with Jack Grealish the likeliest candidate to fill the vacancy left by Bukayo Saka’s injury.

In addition to Zaniolo and Tonali, Italy will take this trip without Lazio duo Ciro Immobile and Mattia Zaccagni, with the latter leaving the national team gathering with an injury. 

Juventus forward Federico Chiesa had initially joined the squad, but like Zaccagni, an injury has forced his early exit, causing Spalletti a substantial selection headache for this fixture.

England potential starting line-up: 

(4-2-3-1): Jordan Pickford; Kyle Walker, John Stones, Lewis Dunk, Kieran Trippier; Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice; Jude Bellingham, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish; Harry Kane.

Italy potential starting line-up: 

(4-3-3): Gianluigi Donnarumma; Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Gianluca Mancini, Alessandro Bastoni, Dimarco; Davide Frattesi, Manuel Locatelli, Nicolo Barella; Domenico Berardi, Giacomo Raspadori, Gianluca Scamacca. 

We Say: England 1-0 Italy

England must cope with a psychological barrier here, knowing their last home triumph over Italy came almost half a century ago. 

But with the Azzurri only winning three of their last nine competitive away matches, this is the perfect opportunity for the Three Lions to break the curse.

Fresher legs and immense attacking potential also play into their hands.

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