26 Mar Last chance for Three Lions to impress Southgate ahead of the World Cup
After a promising victory against the Netherlands on Friday, there’s a final chance for England’s players to impress boss Gareth Southgate as the Three Lions take on Italy.
This is the last international match before Southgate names his squad in June, meaning it could be make-or-break for some, so despite this being a friendly, there is everything to play for.
Our football betting expert has some tips ahead of the match at Wembley.
Italy blue with despair
While England are preparing for the World Cup, opponents Italy are still reeling from failing to make the finals for the first time since 1958.
The four-time World Cup champions’ failure to qualify was mostly due to poor management at the hands of Gian Piero Ventura, who has since made way for interim boss Luigi di Biagio, and understandably so.
This is a squad in transition, and low on confidence – shown in their 2-0 defeat to a weakened Argentina on Friday night.
Still, while there isn’t a World Cup to plan for, there are plenty playing for their international futures at Wembley.
Young England can impress on home soil
This match represents one of the final chances for Southgate to road-test players in his chosen 3-5-2 formation, so all involved against Italy will be raring to stake a claim for spot in his first XI.
While there are still question marks over a number of positions, England’s young attack were vibrant against the Netherlands, with Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, and match-winner Jesse Lingard particularly bright.
The Italy fixture will probably see Dele Alli given the opportunity to shine too – meaning the Three Lions have plenty of youthful attacking threat, even with Harry Kane absent through injury.
At the back, England have now kept clean sheets in five consecutive matches, including against Brazil and Germany. With plenty to play for, I can see them putting in another strong showing.
Back an England victory at 19/20.
Back a low-scorer
For all of England’s attacking talents, their games aren’t often filled with goals. There have been just three in total for either side across the Three Lions’ last five matches – enough to send even the most ardent international fan to sleep.
Italy don’t get many either – they haven’t scored in their last three, and have just three goals in their last seven games.
While I’m hoping for excitement, it may be more prudent to back under 1.5 goals to be scored, at 9/5.