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Preview: England vs. Italy - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: England vs. Italy - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Nations League clash between England and Italy, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

An empty Molineux plays host to a repeat of the Euro 2020 final on Saturday evening, as England face off against Italy in the UEFA Nations League.

The Three Lions salvaged a 1-1 draw against Germany in their most recent League A Group 3 encounter, while Roberto Mancini's side scraped past Hungary 2-1.

Match preview

During one of the more one-sided meetings between old foes Germany and England in recent years, Gareth Southgate's men failed to give the greatest account of themselves as they sought to recover from their flat opening loss to Hungary.

Hansi Flick's side took a deserved lead through Jonas Hofmann's smart turn and finish just after the restart, but Nico Schlotterbeck's trip on Harry Kane handed the Three Lions skipper to rack up a half-century of goals for his country from the penalty spot, and he did just that.

Kane now only needs four more strikes to surpass Wayne Rooney at the top of the all-time England charts, but fourth spot is where the Three Lions currently find themselves in League A, which would signal an unexpected relegation to League B should performances continue in the same vein.

Questions over Southgate's tactics inevitably arose as England went back-to-back games without a win for the first time since September 2018, and not since the most recent World Cup year have the Three Lions suffered a longer streak without success in any competition.

An empty Molineux will not have the same feel to it as a packed-out Wembley, but the hosts have gone 15 games without defeat on English soil, and Italy's XI is a stark contrast to the side which lifted the continental crown in London 11 months ago.

The youthful Azzurri crop performed valiantly to claim a point of their own versus Germany on matchday one, but some more recognisable names came up with the goods to ensure that the reigning European champions would get on the board against Hungary.

Nicolo Barella and Luca Pellegrini got on the scoresheet before Gianluca Mancini's own goal gave the Hungarians a slice of hope, but the Azzurri held out to put their first win on the board in the tournament, although it should arguably have been far more comfortable.

Italy have now leapfrogged Marco Rossi's side to the top of the standings as they endeavour to progress to the finals for the second cycle running, and lifting the Nations League trophy would at least offer some consolation after another disheartening World Cup Qualifying failure.

The Azzurri's victory against Hungary represents just their fourth triumph from 12 games in all competitions since their Euro 2020 success, while they have also now gone five games without keeping a clean sheet and must harness their away-day specialities if they are to glean a positive result in England.

Indeed, Italy have not lost a single game away from home since September 2018 - a 1-0 loss to Portugal in the Nations League - but no fans will be present at Molineux following the ugly scenes of crowd trouble before Mancini's side defeated England on penalties in the Euro 2020 showpiece event.

England Nations League form:
  • L
  • D

England form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • D

Italy Nations League form:
  • D
  • W

Italy form (all competitions):
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • W

Team News

England midfielder Kalvin Phillips was an early withdrawal from the Germany draw following a clash with Schlotterbeck, which was described as a "severe dead leg" by Southgate, and it is difficult to see the Leeds United man making himself available for Saturday.

Southgate is hopeful that Phil Foden will build up his fitness in time to return to the fold, and the same can be said for James Justin (calf), but Fikayo Tomori's hamstring problem could keep him sidelined a little longer. Trent Alexander-Arnold has also left the camp for a well-earned rest.

Jack Grealish was a real livewire out wide following his introduction in Munich and will expect to return here alongside Jude Bellingham, while Tammy Abraham will also be desperate to earn some minutes at Molineux.

Meanwhile, Italy have allowed Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Belotti to leave for their holidays before Saturday's game, but the visitors did not pick up any fresh concerns against Hungary.

Alessandro Florenzi, Francesco Acerbi and Gianluca Scamacca were all notable absentees from the squad on matchday two, and Mancini is sure to consider another wave of alterations, particularly in the midfield.

Manuel Locatelli and Sandro Tonali are both battling to displace Bryan Cristante at the base of the engine room, while Giovanni Di Lorenzo could take the place of Davide Calabria at right-back.

England possible starting lineup:
Ramsdale; James, Stones, Guehi, Trippier; Ward-Prowse, Bellingham; Bowen, Mount, Grealish; Kane

Italy possible starting lineup:
Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bastoni, Mancini, Spinazzola; Locatelli, Tonali, Barella; Gnonto, Scamacca, Raspadori

We say: England 1-0 Italy

Southgate is facing ever-increasing scrutiny after a pair of dissatisfactory showings in the Nations League, with England's attacking stars simply not clicking into gear, but the Azzurri are not the force they once were either.

The young and inexperienced forward line at Mancini's disposal could struggle to break down the Three Lions' stingy defence, and we can envisage the Three Lions finally posting a first win on the board in what may not be the most entertaining affair.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a home win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home Win:data

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