England is set to face Italy at Wembley tonight

England is set to face Italy at Wembley tonight, with their sights set on securing a spot at Euro 2024. The Three Lions have performed exceptionally well throughout the qualification campaign and only require a draw to ensure their place in the tournament in Germany.

Italy, on the other hand, enters the game amid a tumultuous international break marked by a scandal. Italian police questioned Newcastle’s Sandro Tonali and Aston Villa’s Nicolo Zaniolo at their national training center as part of an investigation into their alleged betting activities. This situation poses a challenge for manager Luciano Spalletti, who has recently taken the reins as Italy’s boss, succeeding Roberto Mancini during the last international break. He aims to replicate the success he achieved with Napoli, leading them to their first Serie A title since 1990.

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Italy currently trails England by only three points following their straightforward 4-0 victory over Malta on Saturday. A victory against England would level them on points with the group leaders, although they would still lag behind significantly in terms of goal difference. Both teams are eager to win the group, as it would provide them with a favorable seeding for Euro 2024 in Germany.

England initiated their Euro qualification campaign with a win against Italy earlier this year in Naples, followed by victories against Ukraine, Malta, and North Macedonia. Their perfect start was interrupted last month when they drew against Ukraine. However, a draw at Wembley, the same venue where they lost the Euro 2020 final to Italy, is all they need to confirm their qualification for next summer’s tournament.

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Gareth Southgate fielded a second-string team against Australia last Friday but is expected to make several changes in pursuit of a strong performance to cap off the qualification. Players like Harry Kane and Jude Bellingham are expected to return to the starting lineup, while Jordan Henderson is likely to retain his place from Friday night’s victory over Australia. Despite some criticism in England’s recent international fixtures, Harry Maguire is also anticipated to start.

How have they been performing?
England’s performance has been quite impressive throughout the qualification process, securing four wins out of their five matches played. Their sole setback was a 1-1 draw against Ukraine last month, a match that, if won, would have already guaranteed their qualification.

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Despite their strong performance on paper, there is growing pressure on Southgate for his team selection, with allegations of favoritism becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.

As for the Italian side, they are still in the early stages of Luciano Spalletti’s managerial tenure, with Tuesday’s game being his fourth in charge. The journey began disappointingly with a 1-1 draw against North Macedonia last month, but they bounced back with a 2-1 victory over Ukraine.

Team News

England is poised to make ten changes from the squad that secured a 1-0 victory over Australia on Friday. The only player retaining his starting position is Jordan Henderson, despite facing substantial criticism from both fans and the media. Additionally, Harry Maguire is set to return to the starting lineup, partnering with John Stones in central defense. Kieran Trippier will once again take on the left-back role, as he did during the previous international break due to injuries to Luke Shaw and Ben Chilwell.

Marcus Rashford is making a return to the team, despite a less than stellar start to the season with Manchester United. Other players set to return to the starting lineup include Jude Bellingham, Harry Kane, Phil Foden, and Declan Rice, as Southgate aims to field his strongest XI.

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Italy, on the other hand, will be without Tonali and Zaniolo due to the ongoing betting investigation. Additionally, Juventus star Federico Chiesa is absent from the squad due to persistent injury problems.

Projected Lineups:
England’s possible XI: Pickford, Walker, Stones, Maguire, Trippier, Henderson, Rice, Foden, Bellingham, Rashford, Kane
Italy’s possible XI: Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Mancini, Bastoni, Dimarco; Frattesi, Locatelli, Barella; Berardi, Raspadori, Kean

Star men
England fans will be licking their lips at the prospect of seeing Jude Belligham in a his country’s shirt once again.

The Madrid star has eight goals in eight LaLiga matches this season alongside two assists as he makes playing for the most prestigious club in the world look very easy indeed.

A mention for England captain Harry Kane too, who has eight goals and four assists from his first seven Bundesliga appearances for Bayern following his £100million transfer to Munich.

Italy are without danger man Chiesa so will likely look to his replacement Domenico Berradi to star.

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