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England v Italy: Nations League – live! | Nations League

The teams are out at Molineux! England wear their famous white shirts; Italy sport their storied azzurri. With the game technically being played behind closed doors, there’s not much of an atmosphere … but at least the Italian anthem isn’t disrespected by the usual confused toolkits, and a couple of thousand very excited girls and boys are about to enjoy one of the biggest evenings out of their young lives so far. We’ll be off in a minute!

Gareth Southgate talks to Channel 4 about tonight’s picks. “There’s been a lot of talk about Jack Grealish’s role with us, but he’s been available for 11 games with England this year, and has played in all of them. We know his value of him. We know he has a great impact when he starts, and he has a great impact when he enters games. So tonight we want to see all those qualities that everybody knows he brings. Fikayo Tomori is a player we want to look at. The fact he knows the opposition is probably a comfort to him going into his first start from him, but he’s had a really good season and is full of confidence with what’s happened to him with Milan. Tammy Abraham’s goalscoring record is the best in the whole squad this season. We know he’s always in the right areas and will finish. We’re England, we have to keep winning football matches… but I’ve also got to balance that with some World Cup preparation. Sometimes you have to ride those longer-term decisions. This is another great test for us.”

Tonight’s match is the first England men’s international to be held at Molineux since December 1956, when the hosts beat Denmark 5-2 in a World Cup qualifier. Under the famous Molineux floodlights, which according to our report “gave the mild evening a Christmas sparkle”, Tom Finney and Stanley Matthews ran the visitors ragged on the wings. Tommy Taylor notched a hat-trick, while his fellow Busby Babe Duncan Edwards scored a couple of long-range screamers as well as hitting the woodwork twice. “His shooting of him was remarkable, indeed unparalleled in modern representative football,” cooed our man Silchester (aka John Arlott).

Not that everything was perfect. “Denmark were beaten by brilliance which sprang, largely undeservedly, from much slipshod midfield play,” noted Arlott, who added that “few English teams will be so unsteady at the back, pass so uncertainly in midfield, and play with so little constructive variety , and yet win by so impressive a score.” Ow, tough crowd. But a 5-2 win’s a 5-2 win, and you can be damn sure Gareth Southgate would take a similar mixed bag tonight.

Tommy Taylor scoring one of his three goals against Denmark at Molyneux in 1956. Photograph: Mirrorpix/Getty Images

This match will be played behind closed doors. Well, technically. This is punishment for the disorder at Wembley before the Euro 2020 final last year. The FA were fined €100,000 by Uefa and hit with a two-game stadium ban, though the second match was suspended for two years. However, just as Hungary welcomed 30,000 children and guardians to the supposedly shuttered Puskas Arena last weekend, taking advantage of a Uefa rule that allows schoolkids to attend fixtures played behind closed doors, so England will welcome about 3,000 youngsters of their own today.

Nippers en route to Molineux.
Nippers en route to Molineux. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

England make six changes to the XI named for the draw in Germany. Jack Grealish, Tammy Abraham, Reece James, James Ward-Prowse, Fikayo Tomori and Aaron Ramsdale are in. Tomori makes his first start, while Ramsdale wins his second cap. Harry Kane, now just three goals away from equaling Wayne Rooney’s all-time goalscoring record for England, drops to the bench along with Bukayo Saka, John Stones, Kyle Walker and Jordan Pickford. Kalvin Phillips, who went off injured against Germany, is named as a sub but unlikely to play. Raheem Sterling skippers the side.

Italy meanwhile make nine changes to the XI selected for the Hungary win. Gianluigi Donnarumma and Lorenzo Pellegrini are the only two players to keep hold of their shirts.

The teams

Your #ThreeLions to take on Italy! 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 pic.twitter.com/0UACsiZQxR

— England (@England) June 11, 2022

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Our starting XI to take on England 📋#ENGITA #NationsLeague #Azzurri #VivoAzzurro pic.twitter.com/1qnubf7x2v

— Italy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@Azzurri_En) June 11, 2022

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Preamble

The last time these two countries met, of course, this happened …

… so England go into tonight’s Group A3 Nations League game with a little revenge on their minds. But more pertinently, they also could do with a win in order to revive their hopes of winning the group, or perhaps lessen the prospect of getting relegated from it. At the moment, after losing in Hungary and narrowly avoiding defeat in Germany, they’re bottom of the table. Tonight’s opponents, having drawn with Germany and beaten Hungary, are top… and Roberto Mancini’s European champions are doubly motivated to do well in this competition having failed yet again to qualify for the World Cup. This nicely set-up game kicks off at 7.45pm BST. It’s on!

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