31st March, Juventus Stadium, 1945 GMT
Italy play hosts to England in an International friendly, with both teams looking to test their squad strength to see how they fare against tough opponents. Both teams are in different places at the moment, and a win against a strong team would certainly have varying effects.
For Italy, the controversy surrounding manager Antonio Conte would be very distracting and could be detrimental to the teama s preparation. Juventus fans arena t happy with their former managera s training methods and blame him for the fitness problems facing Claudio Marchisio. Even John Elkann, a Juve patron, came out and said that Conte should remember that he is only a cherry-picker and not a coach like he was back in Turin. All of this has left Conte shaken, especially after even receiving death threats.
England, on the other hand, will be fresh off the back of a 4-0 thumping of Lithuania, and having extended their winning run after the World Cup to seven games, will be feeling good about themselves. However, Italy would be a much stronger opponent, and the injuries that the squad is facing, it will be a tough ask for England to continue their winning run. But this would be the best opportunity for the fringe players to show Roy Hodgson that they can be up for the task.
Team News and Tactics
Having drawn 2-2 with Bulgaria in their qualifying match for Euro 2016, Italy have now extended their undefeated run in qualifiers to 45, a run that they have been on since 2006. As incredible as that run is, the present circumstances are different, with Conte looking to give some of his own squad players a tryout to see if they can step up to the international stage. Conte himself said that he would wants to verify if the players in the squad are up to the task, and it is expected that Franco Vazquez and Mirko Valdifiori could get a look in. Ignazio Abate and Davide Santon were also added to the squad with the friendly against England in mind.
Italy would also be without Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi, making the task that much harder. More than the team, Contea s state of mind could prove to be a bigger factor in this game. The fact that this game is going to take place in Juventusa stadium and probably filled with Juventus fans would add to the tension. Conte might go for the safety of a draw rather than risk a loss against England. Italy are likely to go with the same formation as against Bulgaria, with 3 at the back and 5 midfielders.
Predicted Line Up: Sirigu; Ranocchia, Bonucci, Moretti; Abate, Verratti, Santon, Soriano, Parolo; Pelle, Eder
Roy Hodgson will be happy with the response that his team has given following a World Cup campaign that ended winless and disastrous. Having won 7 games on the go, England would want to keep up the win streak. However, Italy is by far the toughest opposition they have faced so far and unfortunately Hodgson would be without a spate of players, at least 9, who have all withdrawn due to various injuries. This, of course, gives the fringe players a chance to stake a claim in the team, and if they can perform well against a tough side like Italy, the manager would definitely have something to think about.
Man of the match against Lithuania, Danny Welbeck is out of the squad and he is joined other first team players like Raheem Sterling, James Milner and Leighton Baines. Of the players that are left in his squad, Hodgson has to call up on those who have lesser experience on the international stage. This, of course, gives the likes of Theo Walcott and Kieran Gibbs a chance to start for the team and put in some game time. The player on whom the focus would once again be would be Harry Kane, especially after he scored inside 2 minutes of coming on to the field against Lithuania.
Expected Line Up: Hart, Clyne, Smalling, Jones, Gibbs, Henderson, Carrick, Delph, Walcott, Kane, Rooney.
Both teams will be looking for a positive result for different reasons, and while a win could ease the fans off Contea s back, he would probably take a draw as a positive result. For England, the focus would be on continuing the winning run, so both teams might cancel each other out.
Predicted Score: Italy 1-1 England