Well, a UEFA Nations League match definitely happened. England and Italy played to a 0-0 draw at Molineux Stadium in UEFA Nations League play. This leaves England rooted to the bottom of group three after three matches as they came into the Italy showdown with losses to Hungary and Germany on their resume. Italy will end the first round atop the group with the draw but neither team will be particularly happy with the result. Both teams created a few chances but neither attack was at the top of their game with five big chances missed between the two.
Neither goalkeeper was even tested much. Aaron Ramsdale made three saves in comparison to Gianluigi Donnaruma’s four. You can look directly at who was leading the lines as to why. Tammy Abraham wasn’t able to put either of his shots on target in a disappointing showing while England searches for Harry Kane’s backup. On the other side Gianluca Samacca wasn’t able to find much space only taking a single shot. While each defense did perform well, it’s not like they had a herculean task to accomplish.
A worrying dip in Form for England
This isn’t the start to the summer that Gareth Southgate hoped for with a loss and two draws in a week. While England has been without Trent Alexander-Arnold due to the defender getting a much-needed rest after a long season, this is a squad that should be more than talented enough to score goals. Southgate’s tactics have been criticized in the past but usually, he’s able to get the results that England needs. This week hasn’t worked out like that. It’s not only that the Three Lions sit at the bottom of their Nations League group, but that they’ve sored only one goal across these three matches.
The defense has performed well but that can only get them so far if build up play doesn’t end in goals. Swapping between a back three and a back four seems to make it hard for England to get comfortable as did the extreme player rotation. Southgate has talent at his disposal but the challenge now will be creating and sticking to a system that allows them to perform at their best come World Cup time in November.
Mancini’s new rising stars
Roberto Mancini is constantly trying to get some more new faces into this cycle for the Azzuri. Since Italy failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup this is a developmental time for the team. Mancini included Frosinone’s defender Federico Gatti in the starting eleven as a center-back and he demonstrated why Mancini showed faith in him.
In the second half Mancini decided to include Sassuolo’s Giacomo Raspadori, Inter’s loanee Salvatore Esposito and Wilfried Gnonto who is definitely the most surprising player of this first three matches of the UEFA Nations League group stage. He’s now a name that many Italian and European clubs have on their list for the summer transfer window and will be someone to take into account over the next few seasons, considering that he was born in 2003. He’s one of the most promising young stars for the future. Mancini is not new to finding new talents and he has no fear when it comes to including them in his lineups. He was the first one to believe in Nicolò Zaniolo, ever before he started to play Serie A soccer with AS Roma and he’s now doing something very similar with players such as Gnonto and Gatti.
How many right backs does England need?
A fun challenge is how many right backs can Southgate play in a match as the strongest defensive performances once again came from the flanks. Keiran Trippier put in a shift at left back, having six recoveries and only being dribbled past once, while tangoing with Matteo Pessima. Reece James was stellar on the right as well, winning two tackles, creating two chances and only missing four passes during the match. The more right backs, the better for Southgate as they’re one of the strengths of the team. Since James can play in midfield or center back, there is a possibility of seeing Kyle Walker, Alexander-Arnold, James, and Trippier all on the field together.