England can effectively book their place in next summer’s European Championships in Germany with a win against Italy on Tuesday, though a victory for the Italians would put them level on points with Gareth Southgate’s men with two games to play.
We preview the action below.
England with point to prove…?
Despite England’s near-perfect qualification campaign so far – picking up 13 from a possible 15 points and scoring 16 goals in five fixtures – there always seems to be a sense of pessimism whenever there’s an occasional sub-par performance.
Gareth Southgate’s 1-0 win against Australia on Friday night was admittedly rather stale and pedestrian, as well as their most recent Euro 2024 qualification game against Ukraine last month – the only game England have failed to win in this qualification process – so fans may be casting a sterner eye on Tuesday’s fixture against Italy than previously expected.
England were 2-1 winners against the Italians in the reverse fixture in Naples back in March – the fixture which saw Harry Kane become England’s all-time top scorer – and another win here would virtually confirm their qualification to next summer’s European Championships, with Ukraine having to overturn a six-point difference and a considerable GD deficit in two games to pip them to a top-two finish.
In what amounts to a replay of 2021’s final (also at Wembley), England start as the 4/6 favourites to put daylight between themselves and their visitors in the Group C table. Expect to see a more experienced Three Lions side on the pitch on Tuesday night, with the likes of Harry Kane (5/4), Marcus Rashford (5/2) and Jude Bellingham (18/5) all good picks to be an anytime goalscorer. Kane brought up his 54th goal for his country with a penalty in the reverse fixture, so England to score from the spot at 4/1 also looks appealing.
Spalletti continues to build Italy
Italy were left in a bizarre situation last month when Euro 2020-winning manager Roberto Mancini decided to abandon his role to become the new head coach of the Saudi Arabia national team. That led the Italians to appointing Luciano Spalletti as manager – the former Napoli boss just four months into his year-long sabbatical from football after winning the Serie A with the Naples side.
An underwhelming 1-1 draw in Spalletti’s opening game against Macedonia may have had fans fearing for their chances of qualifying for next year’s tournament in Germany, but an important 2-1 win against Ukraine and a 4-0 drubbing of Malta means they stand on 10 points in Group C – the same number as Ukraine having played a game less.
As mentioned, a win for Italy at Wembley would put them level on points with England at the summit of the group. It may be points that they will need as well, with a trip to Ukraine in their final qualification game certainly not one that they will want to be chasing three points in. They are 9/2 to win on Tuesday, with a second draw at Wembley in as many games priced at 13/5.
In terms of personnel, striker Davide Frattesi seems to be the main beneficiary of Spalletti’s appointment, with the Inter man scoring three goals in Italy’s last two games. He is 11/2 to find the net anytime, with Domenico Berardi leading the market at 5/1.
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