Wembley stadium in London, England will be the centre stage of the historic meeting between England and Italy, in their quest for the 2020 European Championship.
The iconic stadium will embrace 65 000 supporters in what is billed the “English moment of reckoning”. Truth be told, both sets of teams need this title for different reasons.
FARPost, like all members of the football community, have absolute interest in this magnificent contest. As such, this publication looks at the balance of forces leading to this spectacle at 21:00 CET.
1. Mancini factor
The Italian mentor, Roberto Mancini must be commended for transforming this under-performing Italian side when he took over. For the record, the Azzuri failed to qualify for the last FIFA 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Mancini has overseen a resilient and tactful manifestation of Italy, and his leadership coupled with a successful stint in England (Manchester City) gives him an inside knowledge of the English game.
2. Mixed tactical team
Serie A has seen a catastrophic decline in the 2000s due to the emergence of La Liga and English Premiership, due to economic ramification and migration of talent to that part of Europe.
Still, the talent in the Italian DNA cannot be underestimated. Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne, Federico Chiesa and Jorginho highlight the potent tactical mix at the disposal of the Italian game.
3. The Ghost of WC 1966
Regardless of what the English FA, players and supporters might say, the ghost of the WC 1966 triumph at Wembley, still lingers on the minds of all.
The pressure will squarely be on the Three Lions to either banish the great memories of the class of 66 or re-write their own history and cement their destiny at the world’s most famous venue.
4. Southgate’s style
Gareth Southgate epitomizes the new breed of young modern coaches. Blessed with a sumptuous enigma of calmness, bright mind and humility, the England manager has worked miracles with this team.
Led ably by Harry Keane, supported by a rejuvenated Raheem Sterling and galvanized by Jordan Pickford in goals, England have been brilliant. Southgate has adopted a flexible but intricate style of play that is based on decisive possession, solid tactical intensity, freedom of expression and overall harmony to accommodate all players within their arsenal.
5. Is the Italian job threatened?
Mancini has demonstrated the brittle nature of the Azzuri by unleashing the constant 1v1 probing of Insigne and the marauding runs of Chiesa. Furthermore, they displayed a mental tactical defending entrenched in their catenacchio blueprint.
However, England’s football has benefited from the influx of foreign coaches in the premiership (Mancini, Pep Gourdiola and Juergen Klopp). This tactical injection of perfect and superior minds, have helped evolve the game, players and outlook of the English set-up.
Southgate has managed to fuse the abundance of talent, but effectively allow him to play 2 systems at will (1-3–4-3 and 1-4-2-3-1) with desirable results. Tonight at wembley, England has all the ability to annihilate the Italian job.