ENGLAND 0-0 ITALY: The first meeting between the two nations since the Euro 2020 final ends in a goalless draw as Jack Grealish fails to grasp rare Three Lions start
England’s Nations League hopes look slim after a goalless draw against Italy at Molineux on Saturday evening.
It was the first meeting between the two sides since Italy won the Euro 2020 final on penalties at Wembley last July. The Three Lions and their rivals couldn’t be separated in the West Midlands, despite both teams enjoying plenty of chances. It was a tough evening for Jack Grealish, who failed to impress after being handed a rare start by Gareth Southgate.
Here, Mirror Football lists the five main talking points from an intriguing evening – including a selection headache for the England boss.
Good start… boring finish
AFP via Getty Images)
The game got off to a pulsating start as both managers deployed experimental line-ups. Davide Frattesi should’ve made it 1-0 to the visitors when he picked up the ball in front of goal early on, yet the Sassuolo forward failed to find the target.
England then had a golden opportunity of their own when Tammy Abraham intercepted a sloppy pass from Gianluigi Donnarumma, only for Manuel Locatelli – a key member of Italy’s victorious Euro 2020 squad – to produce an excellent last-gasp block.
The chances kept on coming at both ends, with 12 shots recorded in the opening 45 minutes. Mason Mount went the closest for the hosts, hitting the crossbar after some nice build-up play. Yet neither team managed to make the breakthrough before the interval.
The first big chance of the second half fell to Raheem Sterling. Reece James found the stand-in skipper inside the six-yard box, but he failed to hit the target. After that, there was little else to report on. It was a disappointing end and an evening to forget for all concerned. It’s now three games without a win for England – a worry for Southgate.
Ramsdale stakes claim
How do you rate England’s performance? Let us know in the comments below!
Jordan Pickford came under fire on Tuesday evening for his poor effort at saving Jonas Hofmann’s goal in England’s 1-1 draw with Germany. The Everton stopper didn’t enjoy a great season and many have called for Aaron Ramsdale to take the gloves.
The Arsenal ace was given his chance by Southgate against Italy and didn’t disappoint, keeping England in the game at half-time. He made three saves before the interval, including a superb stop from point-blank range to deny AC Milan midfielder Sandro Tonali. Ramsdale continued to impress and will be pleased with his clean sheet.
The next five months will be crucial for both Ramsdale and Pickford. The latter has never let England down when it really matters, yet that won’t be enough to secure the No1 shirt in Qatar. How the two start next season will define their roles in Southgate’s squad.
A poignant evening
Action Images via Reuters)
The narrative of Saturday evening’s game was always going to be focused around the Euro 2020 final, and it was simply impossible to ignore the many reminders at Molineux.
It’s exactly 11 months since England suffered heartbreak at Wembley. It was hard not to be transported back to that famous evening and remember Luke Shaw’s early goal, Leonardo Bonucci’s desperate equaliser and Bukayo Saka’s cruel miss. Many England fans would’ve been thinking “on this day” – and perhaps the players were, too.
The attendance was also a reminder of what happened on July 11, 2021. Just 3,000 fans – mostly children under the age of 14 – were at Molineux to watch the Nations League clash due to UEFA punishing England for the chaotic scenes at the Euro 2020 final. The FA will be hoping it’s the last international they play without a capacity crowd.
AFP via Getty Images)
All eyes were on Grealish, as he made just his second start for England since October. The Manchester City playmaker showed signs of his talent throughout the first half – with some neat touches here and there – but there was little substance to his game.
Grealish wasted a couple of crossing opportunities and let the fixture drift by, rather than make an impact. He was booked for his efforts. The former Aston Villa skipper will be hoping for another opportunity against Hungary at Molineux on Tuesday evening.
Nations League situation
Action Images via Reuters)
This game was billed as England’s chance to redeem last summer’s Wembley loss – but lifting the World Cup in Qatar is the only antidote to their Euro 2020 pain.
The Three Lions failed to beat Italy once again and are now at risk of suffering relegation from their Nations League group. They remain bottom of the table following Saturday evening’s results, with Hungary and Germany sharing a 1-1 draw in the other match.
England should survive the drop with three fixtures to play, yet it seems unlikely they will compete in next June’s finals. Southgate will be hoping to end a disappointing run of fixtures with three points against Hungary and keep his critics at bay.