19 minutes: It’s all a bit messy now. Bonucci comes through the back of Kane. Southgate applauds from the sidelines. No idea why.
17 minutes: Nothing comes out of the corner.
16 minutes: Raspadori rolls the ball wide to the right towards Barella, who gets clipped by Saka and doesn’t need too much persuasion to go down. A free kick just to the side of the English penalty area. Dimarco and Raspadori take turns spinning in dummy, running around in absurd circles, then Dimarco finally rides low in the mixer. Badly executed and ridiculous. The ball goes in front of a corner of Italy.
14 minutes: England has settled in after that shaky start. They ping the ball around and provoke a few whistles from the home fans. Kane enters from the right and tries to get things done in a crowded box. Italy swarms and closes the door. Kane tries again on the left. No luck there either. But this is much better from the visitors.
12 minutes: England recycles property, Sterling drives one in from the left. Maguire, who had stopped after the free kick, has a soft header. Donnarumma catches without fuss.
11 minutes: Foden’s delivery is not good, not to beat the first man.
10 minutes: Jorginho crosses from the right. Too close to Pope, who claims without fuss. England, on the other hand, go up via Sterling, who makes a mistake as he goes left. Free kick. Everyone stands at the edge of the Italian box.
8 minutes: San Siro isn’t full, so the atmosphere isn’t too great, even if Italy continues to dominate possession.
6 minutes: England is all over the place. Scamacca turns and drives into a huge hole in the center of the field. He has options on both sides, but decides to shoot early and sends an inch wide from the left post. I’m not sure Pope would have been up to that, had it been on target.
5 minutes: Italy has started very rosy. Dimarco waves in from left. Scamacca rises above Maguire on the far stick and sends a header to the top right. Pope desperately scoops it out from under the bar and Maguire concedes a corner. England handles that easily enough.
4 minutes: England are almost undone by a simple ball through the middle. Maguire gets up and Raspadori runs off. Raspadori shoots straight at Pope, who parries well. Then the flag goes up for offside. Turns out Maguire executed the fall perfectly.
3 minutes: Barella finds some space on the right side and tries to unleash Dimarco on the other flank with a striking diagonal pass. The ball flies safely out of play.
1 minute: Cristante leaves a little something on Foden, who felt it. A bold opening move for a player one booking away from suspension.
England gets the ball rolling. Tonight’s referee sent Harry Maguire and Reece James the last time he was in charge of a game in England (against Denmark at Wembley in 2020).
Before the game, a moment of silence in memory of Queen Elizabeth II and the victims of the recent flood in Italy. Respectfully observed.
The teams are out! Italy wears their famous azure blue, while England wears their new World Cup kit, white with blue epaulettes. The action is just a few anthems away. (God Save the King still doesn’t stumble off the tongue, does it? Old habits, all that.)
Gareth Southgate talks to Channel 4: “We’re looking for a level of performance, that’s the key. It’s a great stage to come and play against the best opponents. Harry Maguire seems in a good place with his training, and it’s not like he’s been out of competition for ten weeks. We feel like there has been a good process with Jude Bellingham, dipping his toe into the European Championship, then starting and then starting some bigger games. ”
Bukayo Saka has a quick word with Channel 4. “We have come in quite positively. The future is more important than the past. We no longer have control over the past. These matches are very important, the last two before the World Cup, so we really want to win them both. That’s our mentality.”
Italy have three players one booking away from missing next week’s game in Hungary: Bryan Cristante, Nicolò Barella and Alessandro Bastoni.
England have five players who will miss Germany’s visit if they see yellow tonight: Kyle Walker, Reece James, Harry Maguire, Jack Grealish and James Ward-Prowse.
Both teams are coming out of hiding – England beat Hungary 4-0, Italy beat Germany 5-2 – so there are plenty of changes. Gareth Southgate makes six, with Eric Dier picking up his first cap since November 2020, Harry Maguire returning despite not having started one of Manchester United’s last four Premier League games, Nick Pope playing the injured Jordan Pickford will replace, and Declan Rice, Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden will also start. Roberto Mancini is making seven changes, with Chelsea midfielder Jorginho returning and West Ham striker Gianluca Scamacca taking the place of the injured Ciro Immobile.
Italy: Donnarumma, Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Acerbi, Toloi, Cristante, Jorginho, Dimarco, Raspadori, Scamacca, Barella.
Subs: Meret, Vicario, Luiz Felipe, Pobega, Frattesi, Gnonto, Emerson, Zerbin, Grifo, Gabbiadini, Esposito, Bastoni.
England: Pope, James, Dier, Maguire, Walker, Bellingham, Rice, Sterling, Foden, Saka, Kane.
Subs: Ramsdale, D Henderson, Trippier, Shaw, Grealish, Coady, Ward-Prowse, Tomori, Mount, Bowen, Alexander-Arnold, Abraham.
Referee: Jesus Gil Manzano (Spain).
The last time England played, this happened…
…so, well, you know. England are even on a four-game streak without a win after making a terrible mess of Nations League Group A3 so far. Losses in home and away games to Hungary, a happy draw in Germany and a scoreless boredom in Wolverhampton against Italy have sent Gareth Southgate’s side to the bottom of the rankings. If they lose in San Siro tonight, they will be picked from the top with extreme prejudice. In other words, it’s gameface time. Kick-off is at 7:45pm BST. It’s on!