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HomeMatch previewsPreview: Italy vs. England - prediction, team news, lineups

Preview: Italy vs. England – prediction, team news, lineups

Taking the first step towards defending their continental crown, Italy welcome England to the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona for Thursday’s Euro 2024 qualifying Group C opener. The Azzurri ensured that football would not come home when they defeated the Three Lions on penalties in the Euro 2020 final, but Roberto Mancini’s champions have since lost their sparkle.

Team News:

Already witnessing a couple of players depart the camp injured, Italy have lost attacker Federico Chiesa, left-back Federico Dimarco and goalkeeper Ivan Provedel, the latter two of whom have been replaced by Emerson Palmieri and Marco Carnesecchi.

Carnesecchi is one of four uncapped players to have been called up by Mancini for March’s fixtures, with Wladimiro Falcone, Alessandro Buongiorno and Argentina-born striker Mateo Retegui also seeking to make their maiden appearances for the Azzurri.

With no Ciro Immobile or Giacomo Raspadori in the ranks due to injury, Retegui could very well be thrown into the deep end for his first start this week, as Mancini faces a toss-up between a 4-3-3 or 3-5-2 setup.

Similarly, a trio of England men have also left the camp ahead of Thursday’s opener, with Marcus Rashford, Mason Mount and Nick Pope all pulling out with injuries – Fraser Forster has come in to replace the latter.

Despite admitting breaching betting rules, Brentford striker Ivan Toney has returned to the ranks as the only uncapped player in the squad, but none of Ben White, Raheem Sterling, Trent Alexander-Arnold or Callum Wilson has forced their way in this time.

Still languishing on the Old Trafford bench, Harry Maguire should continue to be one of the first names on the teamsheet for Southgate, while Harry Kane is just one strike away from becoming his nation’s all-time leading goalscorer and leaving Wayne Rooney in his wake.

Italy possible starting lineup:

Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Acerbi, Romagnoli, Spinazzola; Barella, Verratti, Jorginho; Berardi, Retegui, Grifo

England possible starting lineup:

Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw; Henderson, Rice, Bellingham; Saka, Kane, Grealish

Prediction: Italy 1-1 England

Having not linked up with their compatriots for a few months, rustiness may be the theme for both sets of players on Thursday night, and Italy’s attacking absences will do their hopes of extending their victorious qualifying home run no favours at all.

Avoiding a confidence-sapping defeat early doors may be the primary goal for both Mancini and Southgate here, so we can envisage a cagey, low-scoring draw in Naples.

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