England v Italy Predictions, Betting Tips and Previews
March 26, 2018
Wembley Stadium - International Friendly
Its a battle between two promoted Under-21s managers as Gareth Southgate faces off against Luigi Di Biagio on Tuesday evening. The England boss will be making preparations for the World Cup, whereas Italy look to rebuild following a disastrous failure to qualify.
Last time the two met in a competitive tournament was match day one of the 2014 World Cup. The game was closely contested as Claudio Marchisio opened the scoring, only for Daniel Sturridge to equalise minutes later. Italy pilled on the pressure, hitting the woodwork on two separate occasions, before Mario Balotelli rose to put a free-kick past Joe Hart.
Joe Gomez' injury against the Netherlands has seen him return to Liverpool for treatment, meaning that James Tarkowski is likely to get a start against Italy. Much depends of whether Gareth Southgate intends to preserver with a three man defence, having effectively nullified the Netherlands front line.
Harry Kane's injury should see one of Danny Welbeck or Jamie Vardy start, with Marcus Rashford getting the nod last week.
Gianluigi Buffon will likely make way for Gianluigi Donnarumma, having returned from retirement to play against Argentina. Andrea Belotti will also hope to get his chance, as Ciro Immobile failed to hit the target for Italy. The two forwards have played in a front two before, and Di Biagio may be willing to experiment in only his second game in charge.
England v Italy Preview and Predictions
The announcement of the England squad saw many question the unadventurous nature of Southgate's selections. However, it suggests that the manager is planning to use these friendlies to lock down his strongest XI, rather than experimenting with wildcards.
The double-edged sword of an easy qualifying group meant that England were able to progress easily, but rarely faced much of a test. Against Italy however, they face a strong side, that will be highly motivated and seeking redemption. This is exactly the kind of test that Southgate's side needs in preparation for the World Cup.
The likes of Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Chiesa offer a skilful, fast attacking threat, akin to that which the Three Lions will face against Belgium. With Kane injured, Vardy is likely to start, giving Southgate the opportunity to test a counter-attacking systems that will be useful against the stronger sides in the competition.
Officially still an interim manager Di Biagio will be hoping that a strong showing in the upcoming friendlies will earn him a permanent role. With the side in need of an overhaul, the former youth side manager seems the ideal man for the job, but whether he is able to draw the best out of older squad members remains to be seen. The Azzuri haven't played since their goalless draw to Sweden, and will certainly be out to show their capabilities on Tuesday.
Ciro Immobile to score anytime at 2/1
The forward is free-scoring in Serie A, and is under fierce competition for his role.
Italy to win and both teams to score at 7/1
For Italy, these friendlies are their opportunity to prove a point, so will be more motivate going into the game.