Italy host England at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium in Naples on Thursday night, in both sides’ opening Euro 2024 qualifier. We look ahead to the game with the key Opta insights and supercomputer prediction.
Italy vs England: The Quick Hits
- England are the very slight favourites to win with the Opta supercomputer (35.7%).
- Italy haven’t won any of their last four games in Naples, last winning there in November 1997.
- Gareth Southgate will be hoping to finally win a game against Italy as England manager, after drawing three and losing one of his previous four games against them.
Italy and England start their quest for Euro 2024 qualification with this match in Naples on Thursday night. The Italians are looking to record consecutive wins over the Three Lions for the first time since March 2002.
Whilst this is the first time that England and Italy have been drawn in the same European Championship qualifying group, they were matched together in the qualifiers for the 1998 World Cup. That time around, England managed to top the group ahead of the Italians despite winning neither of their qualifying games against them (D1 L1), famously drawing 0-0 in Rome in their final game to make it to France ‘98 under Glenn Hoddle.
That game in Rome was one of six consecutive away matches in Italy that England have failed to win (D2 L4), with only one goal to show from these six visits – Andros Townsend’s strike in a 1-1 draw in March 2015. England’s last away win against Italy came in May 1961, with goals from Gerry Hitchens (two) and Jimmy Greaves securing a 3-2 victory at the Stadio Olimpico, Rome.
Gareth Southgate will be looking for his 50th win as England manager in this match, in what will be his 82nd game in charge of the Three Lions. If he does this, he’d become the third England manager to reach 50 wins after Sir Alf Ramsey (79 games) and Walter Winterbottom (82 games).
Southgate will have to do something he’s never done before, however – beat Italy. The England manager has faced the Italians four times but drawn three and lost once, with one of those draws ending in a penalty shootout loss in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley.
Roberto Mancini will be taking charge of his 58th international as Italy manager, with the last Italian coach with more matches in a single spell in charge of the national team being Enzo Bearzot between 1975 and 1986. Both of these sides have been placed in Group C of the European Championship 2024 qualifiers, alongside Ukraine, North Macedonia and Malta. Only two teams will automatically qualify for the finals in Germany next summer, but as Italy won their UEFA Nations League 2022-23 group, they are already guaranteed at least a play-off spot.
Italy 1-0 England: 23 September 2022 (UEFA Nations League)
The last time these two nations met in an international game was in the UEFA Nations League in September 2022, where they played out a low-quality affair in the San Siro, Milan.
Italy prevailed 1-0 despite attempting just three shots on target and posting an xG of 0.49, but it was toothless England that again went home without a victory. Then Sassuolo forward Giacomo Raspadori scored the only goal of the game – his fourth for the senior Italian side.
This 1-0 defeat saw England stretch their scoreless run to three games, which was their longest run in international football since November 2000. At the end of this match, the Three Lions had gone 495 minutes without a single goal in open play. In fact, at the full-time whistle, England still hadn’t scored a non-penalty goal in the 2022-23 edition of the UEFA Nations League – the only other team to suffer that feat were UEFA minnows San Marino.
This was the fifth game in a row that England had failed to win, with that run extending to six games with the 3-3 home draw with Germany at Wembley three days after this match.
This was the fifth successive game between Italy and England that failed to see more than two goals scored – the previous four had all ended in draws, with one 0-0 and three 1-1 draws, including the Euro 2020 final at Wembley, which Italy won via a penalty shootout.
This will be England’s first match since their 2022 FIFA World Cup exit to France at the quarter-final stage. Harry Kane scored England’s only goal of the game from the penalty spot to equal Wayne Rooney’s all-time England scoring record (53 goals) but missed a late penalty which would have levelled the scores and made Kane the outright top scorer in England men’s history.
Overall in 2022, England lost four of their 13 internationals – their most losses in a calendar year since 2018 (also four, but from 17 games).
England haven’t won any of their last three away internationals, with their 1-0 defeat to Italy in Milan back in September 2022 the third in this run after a 1-1 draw in Germany and a 1-0 defeat in Hungary, all in the UEFA Nations League. England haven’t gone four successive away internationals without a win since June 2017.
England have won 17 of their last 18 European Championship qualifying games, losing the other 2-1 away at Czech Republic in October 2019. Across those 17 wins, they’ve scored 67 goals and conceded just seven.
Italy failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar following a shock play-off defeat to North Macedonia in March 2022, so their most recent internationals came in friendlies against Albania (3-1 win) and Austria (2-0 loss).
Italy have won their last 14 European Championship qualifiers, a run stretching back to September 2015. They have lost none of their last 40 Euros qualifiers (W34 D6) since a 3-1 away defeat to France in September 2006. On home soil, they haven’t lost a qualifier since September 1999 against Denmark and are unbeaten in 25 games since (W21 D4).
Overall, Italy have lost just one of their last 31 home internationals (W17 D13 L1), with that defeat coming in that shock World Cup play-off defeat to North Macedonia in Palermo. Their recent record in Naples isn’t great, however – drawing three and losing one of their most recent four games played in the city. Their last win in Naples came back in November 1997 versus Russia in a 1998 World Cup qualifier.
Italy: Vincenzo Grifo
Italian striker Vincenzo Grifo is having a fine season domestically with Bundesliga club SC Freiburg, scoring a career high 12 top-flight goals already in 2022-23, and 14 in all competitions. Admittedly, half of his league goals have come from the penalty spot, but Italy know they have another reliable penalty taker in their squad alongside Arsenal midfielder Jorginho.
Only German striker Niclas Füllkrug (15) has scored more in the Bundesliga this season, while he’s also within the top 10 creative players in the competition with his expected assists total of 5.2.
The 29-year-old has been directly involved in seven goals in just eight appearances for the national team, scoring four goals and assisting three. He’s averaging a goal or assist every 61 minutes for the Italians.
England: Jude Bellingham
With Italy possessing plenty of talented ball-playing midfielders, England will need a central midfield figure to take control of the game. In Jude Bellingham, they have the ideal candidate for that role.
Bellingham was one of the Three Lions players to excel in Qatar at the World Cup, with the Borussia Dortmund youngster becoming England’s second youngest goalscorer at a World Cup (19 years, 145 days) after Michael Owen. He was also the key ball-winner for the Three Lions at the tournament, with a team-high 16 tackles and winning possession back from the opposition 31 times.
Across the Bundesliga this season, he’s the most heavily involved in Dortmund’s open-play attacking sequence involvements (125), while across the league he’s placed third behind only Joshua Kimmich (145) and Jamal Musiala (138).
Italy vs England Prediction
The Opta supercomputer believes England are the slight favourites for this match, with a 35.7% chance of victory. However, this is only a 1.6% chance higher than Italy winning (34.1%), so it’s almost too tight to call.
Gareth Southgate will be hoping the Opta machine is right, as it would mean he’d finally get over his winless streak as England manager against Italy and get Euro 2024 qualification off to a perfect start versus their hardest opponents in the group, on paper.
Italy vs England Squads
Italy squad: Gianluigi Donnarumma, Alex Meret, Marco Carnesecchi, Wladimiro Falcone, Leonardo Bonucci, captain), Matteo Darmian, Francesco Acerbi, Emerson Palmieri, Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Leonardo Spinazzola, Alessio Romagnoli, Rafael Tolói, Giorgio Scalvini, Alessandro Buongiorno, Marco Verratti, Jorginho, Nicolò Barella, Bryan Cristante, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Matteo Pessina, Sandro Tonali, Davide Frattesi, Domenico Berardi, Gianluca Scamacca, Vincenzo Grifo, Matteo Politano, Wilfried Gnonto, Simone Pafundi, Mateo Retegui.
England squad: Jordan Pickford, Fraser Forster, Aaron Ramsdale, Kyle Walker, John Stones, Harry Maguire, Eric Dier, Kieran Trippier, Luke Shaw, Ben Chilwell, Reece James, Marc Guéhi, Jordan Henderson, Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips, Jude Bellingham, Conor Gallagher, Harry Kane (captain), Jack Grealish, Bukayo Saka, Phil Foden, James Maddison, Ivan Toney.