After what has so far been a rather difficult Nations League campaign for England, Gareth Southgate is now set to lead the national team out against Italy this evening.
While all focus will be on picking up their first win of the group stage, there is no doubt that many will be casting their eyes back to the two countries’ previous meeting almost a year ago – the UEFA 2020 final.
The Three Lions hadn’t faced Italy in a competitive match since their 2-1 defeat in the 2014 World Cup, however they were unable to take revenge in Wembley Stadium.
Despite an early opener from Luke Shaw, Leonardo Bonucci made it level in the second half before Roberto Mancini’s side lifted the trophy in conclusion to a dramatic penalty shootout.
The pain of losing the final is certainly still there for many players and fans, but there has been plenty of football that have needed England’s full attention over the past year – while Italy’s celebrations couldn’t last forever.
A year on from the heartbreaking finale in the English capital, we take a look at how both countries have fared in the lead up to tonight’s Nations League clash.
Southgate’s side breezed through the World Cup qualifying and their place at the Qatar tournament was confirmed when they thrashed San Marino 10-0 in November.
The Italian’s string of poor performances left them second in their group and were forced into the World Cup play-offs – however were shocked when they fell to defeat to North Macedonia.
Their defeat to North Macedonia clearly wasn’t much of a wake-up call either, as they have since got hammered by Argentina in the UEFA Cup of champions, before following it up with a draw and a win to Germany and Hungary in the Nations League.
Italy’s starting line-up is set to look very different to the one that beat England, with only Gianluigi Donnarumma and Nico Barella featuring in their last game.
While Mancini’s team still have the Euro 2020 silverware to hang over the Three Lions’ heads, it would probably best they kept quiet tonight considering their failure to beat a #62 ranked team to reach their first World Cup in six years.