Half time Italy 0 England 0
Italy haven’t been brilliant but they have been a touch more fluent in creating chances than England who need to find some rhythm, exert some control in midfield and encourage the wing-backs to get forward and whip over some crosses.
45 min Italy 0 England 0
Rice is penalised when going up to try to meet Foden’s diagonal chip for reasons the replay doesn’t enlighten us about. Didn’t matter as he didn’t win the header but a strange decision.
It’s bee a very scrappy performance from England who look low on confidence and suffering from the old international big match caution.
44 min Italy 0 England 0
Kane drops back to take the ball 50 yards from goal and storms off towards the box, dribbling 20 yards before putting his laces through a shot that swerves, dips but wobbles too high and wide.
42 min Italy 0 England 0
James has a golden opportunity to cross from the right and is urged to do so by Kane but again his radar and sense of adventure is not well calibrated tonight. Too timid.
40 min Italy 0 England 0
Sterling seems to have run off an earlier knock that left him limping.
38 min Italy 0 England 0
Chip up to Scamacca is headed away by Maguire, beating him in the aerial challenge. The ball falls to Crsitante 22 yards out and he unleashes a sidewinder half-volley that crashes straight into Dier with some force. Great block even if we can’t be sure he knew too much about it.
36 min Italy 0 England 0
James puts it on a plate for Dier from the corner but the Spurs’ centre-back cannot connect properly with his header having done the hard bit and lost his market with a crafty near post run.
34 min Italy 0 England 0
Foul on Sterling 15 yards inside the Italy half wide on the left. Foden chips it deep into the box where James meets it on the half-volley after some pinball and drags his shot wide of the left post via an unseen deflection off Toloi. England come back from the goal kick and Bellingham earns a corner on the right.
32 min Italy 0 England 0
England’s forwards are finding the tight marking frustrating. As Graeme Le Saux, on co-comms, says, they need to find a way for Bellingham, Saka and James to join the attack to overload and take the initiative.
30 min Italy 0 England 0
Italy corner on the left, sent straight down Pope’s throat by Dimarco.
28 min Italy 0 England 0
Dimarco sprays a long cross on the run from the left beyond the back post. Di Lorenzo makes the run to the byline to hook it back on the volley but Dier wellies it clear before Scamacca can pounce.
26 min Italy 0 England 0
Rice has found his feet and form with a couple of very good tackles and hub passes but a mistake in positioning by Saka, losing the ball upfield and failing to recover, leaves England naked down the Italy right, But Barella’s’s attempt to exploit it with a pass to Raspadori isn’t good enough, far too heavy and he can’t control it. England breathe again.
24 min Italy 0 England 0
Foden wins the ball and plays a cute pass into Bellingham who spins James in down the right and he whips over a cross. Sadly, it was behind Kane and Italy clear. Shame as James is usually so reliable with his crossing for Chelsea.
22 min Italy 0 England 0
England have settled down in the last 10 minutes or so and are finding the time and space to play, probing away and retreating when they can’t find an incisive, forward pass. Tournament football.
20 min Italy 0 England 0
Neat triangle between Sterling, Saka and Kane down the left earns a free kick when Bonucci shoves Kane over. England try to work an opening to cross down the left but lose possession and need Rice to slide in to prevent a counter, winning the 40-60 duel and a throw-in.
18 min Italy 0 England 0
Bellingham is tripped by Cristante. Free kick just inside the England half.
16 min Italy 0 England 0
Foul on Barella gives Italy a free-kick, 22 yards out on the right. Dimarco pumps his cross into Kane who deflects it out for a corner.
A push by Scamacca on Rice at the corner gives England a free-kick.
14 min Italy 0 England 0
Sterling wins the ball back in midfield, bursts forward down the inside-right but his pass to Kane, on entering the box, sends him wider than he would have wanted and his cross is blocked, looping up and taking the sting out of it. Acerbi outmuscles Foden to clear.
12 min Italy 0 England 0
First opportunity for England after a foul on Sterling. Nothing comes from the free-kick but Sterling gets hold of the scraps on the left and angles in a cross that Maguire leaps to meet. Bonucci gets ahead of him with nous and strength to put him off.
10 min Italy 0 England 0
Rice, who isn’t in the best of nick, is struggling to get a grip in midfield and keeps getting bypassed by Barella who is lacing passes through to Raspadori and Scamacca. The two forwards have dropped off the centre-backs and are flourishing in the space between Rice and the defence.
8 min Italy 0 England 0
England defend that corner much better but nothing’s sticking. Toloi wins the ball back and link up Raspadori and Scamacca to storm up the middle. Rice labours in pursuit of his Hammers’ team-mate who lets England off the hook by scudding a shot wide from 25 yards rather than carrying on into the box.
6 min Italy 0 England 0
England are all over the place. Really poor. Misplaced pass from Walker concedes a needless corner from which Scamacca attacks a cross at the back post. Pope has to turn it on to the post and Maguire hacks it behind for another corner.
4 min Italy 0 England 0
Maguire catches Scamacca offside with a well-timed step up but the flag doesn’t go up until Pope has made the save, low to his right, from Scamacca’s rasping shot.
3 min Italy 0 England 0
Dier is in the middle of England’s back three, Maguire on the left. Barella tries to free Dimarco down the left with a chipped diagonal after winning the ball back easily in midfield. Italy have gone man to man.
1 min Italy 0 England 0
England kick off, attacking from left to right. The pitch looks a beauty, pleasing to zip passes around, as England do in midfield until Foden, playing on the right, is clipped high by Cristante. England free-kick on halfway.
Pennants are being exchanged
Luca Vialli and Gareth Southgate embrace and there will now be a minute’s tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II and the victims of floods in northern Italy.
Time for the national anthems
The camera is fixed on the soprano so we cannot see if anyone stumbles over the lyrical amendment in God Save the King.
Italy’s is glorious.
England in their home kit
White shirts, navy shorts, white socks, with the Euro 96 sky blue flashes.
The hosts are in the tunnel
Italy in azure shirts, shorts and socks. England will be wearing their new World Cup duds, you’d think. Presumably the away kit.
Confirms he is playing at wing-back. Uefa’s team sheet has him playing on the left side of the trident in a 4-2-3-1, perhaps gulled by his shirt number – 7. Reece James at right wing-back wears 3 which offends me. Sorry. I’m very old.
Matt Law reports from San Siro
I haven’t watched C4’s football coverage with the sound on before. Tonight they have Eni Aluko, Joe Cole and the marvellous Alessandro Del Piero as their pitchside pundits.
They are discussing Harry Maguire after Gareth Southgate said in a pre-match interview, and I paraphrase, that there was a vendetta against the centre-half. Don’t know if he meant in the media or from fans in general. If it’s the latter, that would have to include Man Utd fans, too. I’m not sure he’s got that right. Aluko says there is more pressure on him now than ever because he doesn’t deserve his place … at least not on form.
By Matt Law at San Siro
Some interesting decisions by Southgate
Who will play on the left of the three centre-halves? Dier plays in the middle for Tottenham with Davies on the left. Maguire is right-footed but played most of his career at Old Trafford on the left of two centre-backs. Both Sterling and Foden do their best work on the left but I suspect they will be fairly fluid.
And the substitutes
Italy Meret, Vicario, Luiz Felipe, Pobega, Frattesi, Gnonto, Emerson, Zerbin, Grifo, Gabbiadini, Esposito, Bastoni.
England Ramsdale, Henderson, Alexander-Arnold, Trippier, Shaw, Grealish, Coady, Ward-Prowse, Tomori, Mount, Bowen, Abraham.
England starting XI
Pope; Walker, Maguire, Dier; James, Rice, Bellingham, Saka; Sterling, Kane, Foden.
So Bukayo Saka is playing as a wing-back.
England team snap
Gareth Southgate has reverted to a back-three for England’s Nations League clash against Italy at San Siro, making six changes from their loss to Hungary in June.
Eric Dier returned for his first England cap since November 2020, lining up in defence alongside Manchester United captain Harry Maguire, who has not started the last four Premier League games.
Meanwhile, Newcastle’s Nick Pope started in goal and there were starts for Declan Rice, Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden.
Italy’s starting XI
Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Acerbi, Toloi, Di Marco; Cristante, Jorginho; Raspadori, Barella; Scamacca.
England fans are out in force in the golden city
Hey Nostradamus …
We could look at tonight’s match at San Siro, England’s first visit to Milan since 1939, in two ways. The most significant and obvious one is that it’s their penultimate match before they open their World Cup campaign in Al Rayyan on 21 Nov and they need to find some form after those chastening two defeats and two draws in June, matches in which they scored only one goal (and that a penalty) while conceding six.
The other way is that today and Monday’s match against Germany gives them an opportunity to drag themselves off the bottom of Group 3. That may not seem all that important to the increasingly vocal critics of the Nations League but it will save them from a potentially trickier Euro 24 qualification draw and dropping down into League B for the third renewal of the Nations League and opponents that may struggle to draw the kind of sizeable Wembley crowds the FA needs to bridge the Covid grass-roots funding gap.
Last time out England were humiliated by Hungary at Molineux, the players seemingly jaded, muddled and typically vulnerable when sent out with a back four. All the reports suggest that Gareth Southgate will revert to tournament mode and play an extra central defender henceforth with Harry Maguire, despite his long decline at Manchester United, lining up alongside Eric Dier in the absence of the suspended John Stones, with Kyle Walker as the right-sided centre-half.
There should be a start for Jude Bellingham alongside Declan Rice in midfield and another opportunity for Aaron Ramsdale in goal but that should be the extent of the experimentation unless Bukayo Saka is preferred to Kieran Trippier at left wing-back. Up front Southgate has tried a few things in the past 12 months but with time running short and Ivan Toney not in the matchday squad, the expectation is that he will go back to his default of Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane and Phil Foden.
Italy, by contrast, are in full experimentation mode following their failure to qualify for Qatar. They’re trying out the Brazil-born Luiz Felipe, who is eligible by virtue of his Vicenza-born great grandfather, at centre-back, Sassuolo’s hard-running Davide Frattesi in midfield, SPAL’s Salvatore Esposito, the Serie B Pirlo, and Leeds United’s livewire diddyman forward Wilfried Gnonto all in the squad. Some or all may not start but there is a sense that Mancini, temperamentally disposed, like most Italian managers, to trust/favour his veterans, is wholeheartedly committed to rebuilding the European champions.