|Date: Friday, September 23 Weather: 19:45 BST Event: San Siro, Milan Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Sport website and app|
England take on Italy here in Milan 439 days later the final of the euro 2020 at Wembley that brought despair on the pitch accompanied by bitterness and recriminations off it and with both now looking to regain lost momentum.
The bare facts indicate that England suffered the familiar fate of defeat on penalties after a 1-1 draw, the disappointment heightened by defeat at home and after a 55-year wait to reach a grand final.
It was a day when what should have been an occasion for celebration was marred by chaotic scenes caused by widespread hooliganism, a lack of crowd control as ticketless English fans stormed the barriers, and then the racist abuse suffered by Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka. after missing penalties in the penalty shootout.
England and Italy now meet again at one of world football’s most iconic stadiums, the San Siro, with the European Championship final seeming an age away and both countries hoping to banish memories of poor results in their last few games. .
Gareth Southgate’s England can at least use these two Nations League games against Italy and Germany to avoid the embarrassment of relegation from their group, but also as spectators for the next World Cup in Qatar in November.
In contrast, Italy’s fall from grace after their well-deserved night of glory at Wembley has been so swift and painful that it will see them watching the game’s greatest masterpiece from afar after losing a World Cup playoff to minnows from North Macedonia in Palermo.
Italy coach Roberto Mancini had enough credit in the bank with the Euro win to survive that humiliation, but all eyes will be on his side after they lost 5-2 in Germany in their last game, the first time someone had scored so many goals. Azzurri since 1957.
England also need to stop a four-game winless streak, their worst since 2014, when they went five games without a win under then-manager Roy Hodgson.
They have played 13 matches, winning seven, drawing four and losing two since being beaten by Italy at Wembley.
There is no doubt that the optimism and national fervor that accompanied Southgate and England on their journey to the Euro 2020 final have faded over time, and the feeling is growing that failing to win a major tournament at home must now be seen. Like a great missed opportunity. .
Have England really moved on since losing to Italy? They haven’t exactly made a compelling case to suggest they have.
Southgate, for the first time, felt the full wrath of the fans after their last game, the 4-0 loss to Hungary at Molineux in June, the atmosphere filled with vitriol as what had previously been offstage grumbling about their perceived conservative approach exploded. noisily into the public domain.
Chants of ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ echoed around Molineux, notoriously short memories in evidence once again after Southgate guided England to the World Cup semi-final in Russia in 2018 ahead of the European Championship final. 2020, thus proving yes. know what he is doing. England captain Harry Kane expressed his disappointment when asked about the manager’s position.
Southgate is as confident as the England manager. The Football Association admires his character, his record and everything else he brings to the organization. If he leaves, it will be at a time of his choosing, unless something extraordinary happens, since he signed a contract that will take him until December 2024.
Showing a more world-weary figure than usual after the Hungary defeat, when almost everyone involved in those Nations League matches seemed to be suffering from football fatigue, Southgate even created a stir when he said at one point: ” I won’t stay longer than my welcome.”
However, there is no doubt that Southgate needs performances and results in these next two Nations League games to dispel the notion that England may have squandered their big chance at Wembley on that damp night of chaos in July last year. , that circumstances are unlikely to change. fall back so favorably for them in the short term.
The World Cup will do much to shape what his time as England manager will look like along with his legacy. Expectations that had plummeted after dismal efforts in major tournaments with Fabio Capello and Hodgson have been raised by what Southgate himself has achieved.
Southgate, it should not be forgotten, also inherited an England side in disarray after Sam Allardyce’s ill-fated one-game reign. This reservoir of goodwill can quickly run out, even for managers with a long list of honours, so these two Nations League games will be important in setting the mood ahead of the World Cup.
An immediate concern for Southgate is finalizing his squad to go to Qatar, with only these two games left before he puts together the list of those he hopes will prove England are not nearly male and can finally claim the jackpot that has eluded the men’s side since. then. 1966.
Brentford striker Ivan Toney was their standout pick and joins Tammy Abraham in the battle to be the deputy for captain Kane, while Jude Bellingham’s brilliant Champions League performance for Borussia Dortmund against Manchester City last week only increased the clamor for a spot in the starting lineup. .
The absence of first-choice goalkeeper Jordan Pickford through injury means Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale, in goal in the 4-0 loss to Hungary, Newcastle United’s summer signing Nick Pope and Dean Henderson, on loan at Nottingham Forest from Manchester United , they will want to push their claims of being next in line.
The involvement of Manchester United captain Harry Maguire will also come under intense scrutiny after manager Erik ten Hag sacked him following a poor start to the season, and Southgate’s loyalty to a player who has served him well ensured that was on the team.
Italy present a formidable barrier, especially at home, and it will be a real confidence boost if England can come out of the San Siro with a satisfactory result, preferably a win, to brush the cobwebs away from Molineux.