STAR PREVIEW: Italy v England
[dropcap]E[/dropcap]ven the most hardened cynics of England (of which I am a fully signed up member) would struggle to disagree that their performances since the Brazilian nightmare have been more encouraging but their performances at the highest level, when the chips are down, is still debatable.
The chips are hardly down tonight, being another friendly, but they do at least face more creditable rivals in Italy and it will be a chance to see if the green shoots continue to grow or get trampled on in Turin.
Plenty has been made of England’s performance against Lithuania at Wembley on Friday but the reality (sorry to be negative) was surely that Lithuania were very poor?
Nevertheless, if England are a team in transition, then so too are the Italians who also under-performed in Brazil despite beating England 2-1 in the Group D opener.
The Italian coach Cesare Prandelli announced his decision to step down after a 1-0 defeat against Uruguay spelled a second consecutive World Cup group stage exit for the four-time champions.
Harry Kane is very much part of England’s future and the Spurs striker will make his first England start alongside captain Wayne Rooney at the Juventus Stadium. Kane made a sensational start to his England career with a goal scored just 79 seconds having been brought on as a substitute on Friday.
England will be without forward Danny Welbeck, midfielders Raheem Sterling and James Milner and defender Leighton Baines.
Italy v England
7.45pm LIVE ON ITV
HEAD TO HEAD RECORD
(Maximum 10 matches)
Jun 2014 World Cup England 1-2 Italy
Aug 2012 International England 2-1 Italy
Mar 2002 Jun 2012 Euro Championships England 0-0 Italy
Mar 2002 International England 1-2 Italy
Nov 2000 International Italy 1-0 England
Oct 1997 World Cup Italy 0-0 England
Jun 1997 International England 2-0 Italy
Feb 1997 World Cup England 0-1 Italy
Jul 1990 World Cup Italy 2-1 England
Nov 1989 International England 0-0 Italy
The Azzurri are strong in defence, conceding just four goals since the World Cup and best bet for me is the draw – at around 21/10 with Star Sports.