Gareth Southgate talks to Channel 4 about tonight’s picks. “There has been a lot of talk about Jack Grealish’s role with us, but he has been available for 11 games for England this year and has played in all of them. We know his value. We know he has a big impact when he starts, and he has a big impact when he comes into games. So tonight we want to see all those qualities that everyone knows he brings. Fikayo Tomori is a player we want to watch The fact that he knows the opposition is probably a comfort to him ahead of his first start, but he has had a very good season and is full of confidence with what happened to him with Milan. is the best in the whole team this season. We know he is still in the right areas and will finish. We are England, we have to keep winning football games… but I also have to balance that with preparing for the World Cup. Sometimes you have to p make these decisions in the longer term. This is another big test for us.
Tonight’s game is England’s first men’s international match to be held at Molineux since December 1956, when the hosts beat Denmark 5-2 in a World Cup qualifier. Under the famous Molineux spotlights, which according to our report “gave the balmy evening a Christmas glow”, Tom Finney and Stanley Matthews made visitors run in tatters on the backstage. Tommy Taylor had a hat trick, while fellow Busby Babe Duncan Edwards scored some long-range screams and hit the woodwork twice. “His shooting was remarkable, if not unmatched in modern representative football,” our man Silchester (aka John Arlott) cooed.
Not that everything was perfect. “Denmark have been beaten by a brilliance that has arisen, largely unjustifiably, from very sloppy midfield play,” noted Arlott, who added that “few English teams will be so unstable at at the back, will pass so uncertain through midfield and play with so little constructive variety. , and yet win by such an impressive scoreline. Ouch, tough crowd. But a 5-2 win is a 5-2 win, and you can be sure Gareth Southgate would take a similar mixed bag tonight.
This match will be played behind closed doors. Well, technically. It’s punishment for the mess at Wembley ahead of last year’s Euro 2020 final. The FA were fined €100,000 by UEFA and given a two-game stadium ban, although the second game was suspended for two years. However, just as Hungary welcomed 30,000 children and guardians to the supposedly closed Puskas Arena last weekend, taking advantage of a UEFA rule that allows schoolchildren to attend matches played behind closed doors, the England will welcome around 3,000 young people today.
England make six changes to the XI named for the draw in Germany. Jack Grealish, Tammy Abraham, Reece James, James Ward-Prowse, Fikayo Tomori and Aaron Ramsdale are in the game. Tomori makes his first start, while Ramsdale earns his second cap. Harry Kane, now just three goals from equaling Wayne Rooney’s goalscoring record for England, falls to the bench along with Bukayo Saka, John Stones, Kyle Walker and Jordan Pickford. Kalvin Phillips, injured against Germany, is named as a substitute but is unlikely to play. Raheem Sterling skips the side.
Meanwhile, Italy make nine changes to the XI selected for the win over Hungary. Gianluigi Donnarumma and Lorenzo Pellegrini are the only two players to keep their jerseys.
— Italy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@Azzurri_En) June 11, 2022
The last time these two countries met, of course, this happened…
…then England go into tonight’s Group A3 Nations League game with a little revenge on their minds. But more pertinently, they could also do with a victory in order to revive their hopes of winning the group, or perhaps diminish the prospect of being relegated from it. At the moment, after losing in Hungary and narrowly avoiding defeat in Germany, they are bottom of the table. Tonight’s opponents, having drawn with Germany and beaten Hungary, are in the lead… and Roberto Mancini’s European champions are doubly motivated to do well in this competition after failing again qualify for the World Cup. This beautifully put together game kicks off at 7.45pm BST. It’s on!