England Under 21s 0 Italy Under 21s 1 – 5th June 2013

England v ItalyAn uninspiring England side failed to deal with a dominant Italian team and the individual talents of Verratti and Insigne.  Despite the one-goal margin, England never looked like coming close to taking much from the game and will now require results against Israel and Norway in their remaining group games. Here are five quick observations…

England (4-2-3-1): Butland; Clyne, Caulker, Dawson, Robinson; Henderson, Lowe; Redmond, Shelvey, Sordell; Wickham

Italy (4-4-2): Bardi; Donati, Bianchetti, Caldirola, Biraghi; Florenzi, Marrone, Verratti, Insigne; Borini, Immobile

Pearce’s team selection

eng ita u21 001

England’s starting line-up with no Zaha and Lowe picked to start in central midfield

England’s Stuart Pearce decided to start Jason Lowe in central midfield ahead of the more tenacious Nathaniel Chalobah or the more creative Josh McEachran. In the 90 minutes Lowe offered England very little. His passing accuracy was much better than any of his team mates but this was because he kept his use of the ball simple, with sideways 5 and 10 yard passes. Defensively he only contributed one tackle and he didn’t work particularly harder than anybody else. His selection was not justified and when Chalobah replaced Marvin Sordell on 67 minutes, England became a 4-5-1 with Chalobah having a greater impact in the centre of midfield.

 

eng ita u21 002

Marco Verrati [4] ran the show in midfield and dictated the tempo of the match despite having a numerical disadvantage in midfield (taken from whoscored.com)

Verratti the dictator

Marco Verratti (number 4 in the diagram) was the key player in the first half and he manage to single-handedly dictate the tempo of the match, despite England having an extra man in midfield. When he came short, often standing on his own 18 yard box, Lowe would follow him, but the Italian still insisted on receiving the ball. When the play was in the middle third of the pitch he found space superbly by hovering deep, close to his centre halves allowing his midfield partner Luca Marrone (8) to patrol further ahead. England didn’t know how to deal with Verratti and he finished with 87% passing accuracy from 120 passes.

Redmond impresses

England were without Wilfried Zaha and Henri Lansbury who both had niggles, plus Danny Rose and Thomas Ince who were facing one game suspensions, and all of whom could have started in a wide position. Because of the high number of absentees Nathan Redmond started his first game at this level on the left wing with Sordell on the other side. Sordell offered very little, even after switching to the left flank after 20 minutes, but Redmond was England’s best attacking threat – albeit this only happened in flashes rather than for an extended amount of time. In his 90 minutes, Redmond finished with a decent return of three shots and four successful dribbles.

Italy lacked a goal threat up front but their movement was decent

Italy lacked a goal threat up front but their movement was decent

Italy lack a goal threat

Neither one of Italy’s strikers looked like they had a genuine goal threat but their link-up play and movement did look decent. Liverpool’s Fabio Borini tended to stay further up the pitch, looking to stretch the play by darting in behind the England defensive line and getting onto diagonal through balls. He tended to drift towards the right wing channel in between the less pacey Craig Dawson and Jack Robinson at left back. Strike partner Ciro Immobile was the deeper of the two and showed a few decent touches when he held up the ball and offloaded it to a midfielder running forward.

Insigne to the rescue

Italy were a fairly standard 4-4-2 formation and over the 90 minutes their best player was left midfielder Lorenzo Insigne. He naturally looking to cut inside from the left wing and his pace and direct dribbling caused England all sorts of problems with nobody sure of who was supposed to be marking him. On 79 minutes Nathaniel Clyne cynically brought down substitute Manolo Gabbiadini on the edge of the box, although there were shouts for a penalty, and from the resulting free kick Insigne deservedly scored to give Italy an impressive victory.

As always feel free to comment. You can follow me on twitter @TTTFootball.

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About Sam Thompson (@TTTFootball)

Sam is the sole editor and writer of TTTFootball – a football tactics blog that analyses the main fixtures in the top five European Leagues as well as international matches and European competitions. Sam is a massive Ipswich Town fan and currently studies Journalism at the University of Kent. For links to more of his articles, follow him on twitter: @TTTFootball
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3 Responses to England Under 21s 0 Italy Under 21s 1 – 5th June 2013

  1. Pingback: The 2013 Under 21 Euros – Matchday One Review « Back Page Football

  2. Pingback: The 2013 Under 21 Euros – Matchday Two Review « Back Page Football

  3. Pingback: Where has it all gone wrong for England’s u21 side? | Think Football

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