The England vs Italy match will take place on Tuesday March 31, 2015 at the Juventus Stadium in Turin, Italy at 11:45 AM (Pacific)
England enter the friendly with the Azzuri coming off of a 4-0 victory over Lithuania, while Italy enter following a 2-2 draw on the road to Bulgaria. Both matches were a part of each side’s qualification campaign for Euro 2016.
The match Tuesday between two of the traditional powers in European soccer may feature some squad rotations, with both managers stating that Tuesday will be a chance for players on the fringes of their rosters to make a name for themselves and earn consistent first team minutes.
ITALY TEAM NEWS:
Italy have not lost in European qualification since 2006, a streak of 44 matches, which was continued against Bulgaria thanks to a late equalizer from Eder, the Brazilian born striker making his debut for Italy. Bulgaria conceded an early own goal, but scored twice to lead the Azzuri 2-1 late before Eder finished beautifully to secure the away point for Italy.
Controversy surrounded the Italian camp after Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio injured his knee in training with the national team. The injury was initially ruled to be an ACL tear, and Italian coach Antonio Conte reportedly received death threats from incensed Juve fans. However, further examination revealed that Marchisio did not tear his ACL as initially feared, according to a statement from the club, and could return within a few days, easing fears among fans of both Juventus and the Azzuri.
In an interview following the match against Bulgaria, Conte stated that he desires to use the match against England as a test for some of the players just recently called up to the side, players with little or no international experience. This seems like the right approach, especially given the absence of Italian mainstays Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi.
GK: Salvatore Sirigu
D: Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, Ignazio Abate
MID: Marko Valdifiori, Marco Verratti, Luca Antonelli, Roberto Soriano, Andrea Bertolacci
F: Ciro Immobile, Éder
Eventually Gianluigi Buffon will have to give up his job as the number one keeper for Italy, and when he does, Sirigu, the PSG man is the most likely heir. In the defense, look for Conte to mix the veterans Chiellini and Bonucci with Ignazio Abate, the 28-year old A.C. Milan man who was just called into the squad. With his preferred 3 man back line set, Conte will give midfield chances to a number of young players, including a possible start for Bertolacci the 24-year old midfielder for Genoa who came on as a substitute against Bulgaria. Up front, expect Éder to get a chance to build on his strong performance in his Italy debut, with the youngster Ciro Immobile as his striking partner.
ENGLAND TEAM NEWS:
Perhaps the biggest story for England is the fairy-tale beginning of Harry Kane’s national team career. The Spurs striker scored 80 seconds after coming off of the bench, continuing a run where it seems as though there is nothing anyone can do to stop him.
Four England players were sent back to their clubs, including Raheem Sterling and Danny Welbeck, who both scored against Lithuania. Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand was called in to the squad in as a replacement left back.
As for the rest of the squad, much like his Italian counterpart, England manager Roy Hodgson has stated that he wishes to play some of his fringe players against the Italians, giving them a chance to impress him. Some of those players include Everton man Ross Barkley who came on as a substitute against Lithuania.
GK: Joe Hart
D: Nathaniel Clyne, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Kieran Gibbs
MID: Fabian Delph, Jordan Henderson, Ross Barkley, Theo Walcott
F: Wayne Rooney, Harry Kane
Joe Hart looks to be set in stone as the England keeper for many years to come, with Tuesday being no exception. In the defense, look for Chris Smalling to come in for the experienced Gary Cahill, joining up with his teammate at Manchester United, Phil Jones, while Kieran Gibbs slots in as the replacement for the injured Leighton Baines.
In the midfield Fabian Delph and Ross Barkley should both get a chance to impress Hodgson, with Theo Walcott providing some experience. Up front Hodgson has little choice, with Kane and Wayne Rooney as the only two true strikers left on the roster. It should be exciting to see if Kane can continue his magical run.
Italy vs England Prediction
While both sides are certainly strong, it is clear that this won’t be the strongest possible squad that each side could put out. With an abundance of players looking to establish themselves, the game could be disjointed at the beginning, with players on both sides of the pitch seeking to make their imprint on the match.
The match should open up in the second half, but it doesn’t appear as though there is a true favorite. Each side should net a goal, but in the end, the match should finish as a 1-1 draw.
Italy vs England TV Schedule
The match will be streamed live in the United States on ESPN3.