England kick off their UEFA Euro 2024 qualifiers campaign as they travel to face Italy on Thursday, March 23. Last Word on Sports tries to put together an England Predicted Lineup for their challenging clash against the defending Euro champions at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium, Naples.
England Predicted Lineup vs Italy
How England Have Lined-up Recently
The Three Lions will be playing their first two games since their Qatar World Cup campaign, where they were knocked out in the quarter-finals by finalists France. Gareth Southgate stuck with a settled line-up for the majority of the World Cup games, making use of a nice mixture of experienced senior players and exciting youngsters.
The back-five of Jordan Pickford, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw impressed in the competition – only conceding four goals in five games and keeping three clean sheets. That backline has the right balance and variation to excel going into the qualifiers and one which Southgate himself is fond of.
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Jude Bellingham, who has many major European clubs swooning over him, is likely to be rewarded for his amazing form by retaining his place in the team – after impressing at the World Cup. Declan Rice is a nice partner for him with his defensive sturdiness. Captain Harry Kane is irreplaceable for the Three Lions, while the in-form Bukayo Saka – who was hailed as a ‘fabulous human’ by Gareth Southgate recently – and Phil Foden should see them keep their places too from the France game.
England Recent Form and Tactics
Southgate’s side won three out of their five games at the World Cup, including big victories over Iran and Senegal. However, they head into this game with a pretty poor record, having been unable to win a game in Italy since 1961.
Even though Southgate has been criticised in the past for his defensive football, he changed that up a little bit at the World Cup. England normally played a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 system in the major games, with players given more freedom to roam forward and cause trouble in fast breaks or quick-passing attacks.
The likes of Saka and Foden are given a lot of room to manoeuvre in the England system, knowing their ability to cause chaos. Both of the wingers can move past defenders and deliver something deadly in the final third. The Arsenal man is enjoying a prolific season, tormenting teams in the Premier League. He’ll aim to use his swift movement to get into key areas and take clinical shots on target or set up big chances in the final third.
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Foden should also look to use his flexibility and elasticity to wiggle into major scoring areas and be a thorn for Italy. Jack Grealish should also start this, with his brilliant movement through the left and fantastic deliveries being keen to create chances. Kane heads into the qualifiers in good form, having scored 20 goals for Tottenham Hotspur and attracting major Manchester United interest, as he aims to deliver for England again by finishing off his chances well.
Bellingham should be given the license of being a menace in midfield, winning the ball and progressing it forward swiftly. Rice will be more involved in shielding his backline and covering for the overlapping fullbacks, as Shaw and Walker aim to help with additional creative depth. England will look to be swift and innovative with their attacks to unlock the rigid Italy backline – while also using their set-piece prowess to set up big chances.
However, they can also expect a menacing fight from the Italian side in their own yard. Italy has some tormenting players of their own in attack, so Stones and Maguire must maintain a rigid backline to frustrate the hosts. England will probably look to cause chaos in transitions and set-pieces, as they aim to start their qualifying campaign with a commanding win.
England Injuries to Consider
The Three Lions saw three players withdraw from their squad ahead of the qualifiers, which were Marcus Rashford, Mason Mount and Nick Pope – due to injuries.
England Predicted Lineup
Jordan Pickford, Kyle Walker, Harry Maguire, John Stones, Luke Shaw, Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham, Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane