Sports Mole preview Thursday’s international friendly between Italy U21 and England U21, including predictions, team news and possible line-ups.
After both topping their table in qualifying for next year’s Euros, England U21 and Italy U21 meets on Thursday for a friendly game.
The teams meet in Pescara, in the first of two games for both sides during the international season; Preparations for the finale are slowly taking shape.
As the clock ticks down to the finals of the 2023 European Under-21 Championship, to be staged in Romania and Georgia next summer, England’s Young Lions face two possible title contenders in the coming days as they take on Italy and Germany in friendlies.
Lee Carsleys’ side secured their place by topping qualifying Group G and finished four points clear of second-placed Czech Republic in June after winning eight of their ten games and conceding just seven goals.
Preparations for the Under-21s’ ninth consecutive continental finals get under-21s in earnest this month when they travel to Italy’s Abruzzo region before welcoming the Germany youngsters to Bramall Lane next Tuesday.
Although the Young Lions slowed down a bit in their last qualifier, losing 2-1 at home to Slovenia and missing out on an unbeaten record, the Young Lions’ recent run has been impressive – and particularly in front of goal.
With a tally of 26 goals in their last 10 games, England will believe they have the firepower to go all the way at Euros but will first have to match some of the best.
While the visitors were eliminated in the group stages of last year’s EURO in Hungary and Slovenia, Italy went one step further before being eliminated by Portugal in a thrilling quarter-final.
Since then, the Azzurrini have booked a return ticket to the finals; They finished five points ahead of Group F runners-up Republic of Ireland, whom they defeated 4-1 in a crucial showdown on the final day.
All in all, Paul NicolatoThe side have avoided defeat in their 10 games, won seven times and will be among the favorites in Tbilisi next July.
They now host England at the Stadio Adriatico-Giovanni Cornacchia in their first of several friendlies ahead of the final, with a game against Japan next week.
Can draw on several starlets who have appeared regularly in the opening weeks of the Serie A season – including a Tottenham-bound destiny udogieJuventus teenager Fabio Miretti and Atalantas Giorgio Scalvini (Sunday’s match winner against Roma) – Nicolato certainly can’t complain about his chances.
Italy U21 form (all competitions)
Form of England U21 (all competitions)
Lee Carsley has named a 25-man squad for the September meeting and welcomes the former senior cap Conor Gallagher back in the crease after the Chelsea man failed to make it Gareth Southgates selection.
While the 22-year-old has been struggling for playing time since returning to Chelsea, another former contender for the plane to Qatar is Arsenal Emile Smith Rowe – has played under 90 minutes so far this season and is still suffering from a groin problem that rules him out.
Recently returned from an injury, Oliver Skip joins Tottenham colleagues Ryan Sessegnon and DJ Spence in the squad of the guests – the latter is there despite only one replacement this season.
Liverpool teenager Tyler Mortoncurrently on loan to Blackburn Rovers in the Championship, joins club-mate Harvey Elliott fighting for a place in midfield. Folarin Balogun, Anthony Gordon and Cole Palmer are among Carsley’s options in attack while Aston Villa is a forward Cameron Archer lost.
Meanwhile, Italy have called up winger Destiny Udogie and midfielder from Juventus Nicole Rovella and Fabio Miretti, as well as Inter’s recent signing Raoul Bellanova. All could start in the hosts’ preferred 3-5-2 setup, but Bellanova faces competition Andrea Cambiaso on the right flank.
Samuel Ricci Turin has been left out by Paolo Nicolato, however, as the former Chievo youth coach names six new faces in his latest squad.
As Lazio Matteo Cancellieri and Leeds United striker Wilfried Gnonto both join the senior squad that the Azzurrini were expected to start with Pietro Pellegri front, supported by both Lorenzo Colombo or Nicolo Cambiaghi – The latter last scored in his country’s 4-1 win against Ireland.
Possible starting line-up for Italy U21:
plizzari; Okoli, Scalvini, Viti; Cambiaso, Miretti, Rovella, Bove, Bellanova; Pellegri, Cambiaghi
Possible starting line-up for the England U21s:
burzik; Aarons, Colwill, Harwood-Bellis, Thomas; Ramsey, Gallagher, Elliot; Palmer, Balogun, Gordon
We say: Italy U21 – England U21 2:2
After a total of 45 goals in EURO qualifiers, both sides lack confidence in the last third – and both sides will benefit from some in-form appearances this month. Therefore, a tie between two top contenders for continental glory could be on the cards in 2023.