England v Italy background
Monday, 22 June 2015
Having met four times in the final tournament since 2000, Italy and England need no introduction as they conclude their Group B campaigns with a semi-final place at stake.
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England and Italy are familiar opponents at the UEFA European Under-21 Championship. Their meeting in Olomouc in the last round of Group B games will be their fifth in the final tournament since 2000 and one of the most important with qualification for the semi-finals at stake.
• England bounced back from their opening loss to Portugal by defeating Sweden 1-0 on Sunday.
• Italy also put in an improved display after defeat by Sweden as they pushed Portugal all the way in a 0-0 draw.
• The four semi-finalists in the Czech Republic will qualify for next summer's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Should England reach the last four, the two third-placed teams will contest a play-off on 28 June to take their spot.
• England will advance with a win, while a draw will take them through so long as Sweden fail to beat Portugal in the other match. If England lose they will be eliminated.
• Italy will go through only if they beat England and Sweden lose to Portugal. They cannot qualify for an Olympic play-off irrespective of results on Wednesday.
• A more detailed breakdown of the permutations can be found here.
• Alex Pritchard, the Tottenham midfielder, will play no further part in the competition after scans confirmed that he suffered ankle ligament damage during the Sweden game.
• Jesse Lingard replaced Pritchard after 55 minutes and scored England's late winner. He said: "It was just a massive relief for everyone in the camp. The team spirit and togetherness of our squad is really good and we are going into the Italy game fully focused."
• Pritchard is the second player that coach Gareth Southgate has lost to injury after Saido Berahino's withdrawal on the eve of England's first game. Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Benik Afobe flew in to replace Berahino.
• Southgate has John Stones available for selection again after the centre-back missed England's first two games because of concussion after a blow to the head during training.
• Reserve goalkeeper Jonathan Bond returned to training on Monday after rolling his foot before the Sweden fixture.
• Carl Jenkinson and Ben Gibson picked up yellow cards in the opening game against Portugal and if booked against Italy would miss the semi-final, should England progress.
• The players who did not feature in the draw with Portugal took part in a full training session on Monday afternoon, while those who did rested at the hotel.
• Coach Luigi Di Biagio made five changes to his starting XI for the Portugal game – dropping captain Matteo Bianchetti and deploying a new three-man midfield.
• One of the players who came in, Danilo Cataldi, spoke at a press conference on Monday: "Our minds are focused totally on England. We are only thinking about winning. Our chances of reaching the semi-finals are not very high but things can change quickly in football."
• Italy midfielder Stefano Sturaro served the first game of a three-match ban against Portugal.
• Although Italy are the only U21 EURO squad without a senior international, Sturaro is one of three players with UEFA Champions League experience. The others are Lorenzo Crisetig (2011/12 group stage for Inter against CSKA Moskva) and Cristiano Biraghi (2010/11 group stage for Inter against Twente).
• Twelve teams have only picked up a single point since 2002 in the opening two matches of the group stage, with only two (16.7%) managing to progress to the semi-finals (Portugal 2004 and Netherlands 2006).
• Senior coach Antonio Conte saw a much-improved display in Uherske Hradiste. He is staying with the team until Wednesday.
• Francesco Bardi, Federico Bernardeschi, Matteo Bianchetti, Cristiano Biraghi, Alessio Romagnoli and Federico Viviani have all been booked so far and would miss a potential semi-final (if Italy progress) if they receive another yellow card against England.
Last five games (most recent first): WLWWW
Qualifying top scorer: Saido Berahino (10)
Last five games (most recent first): DLLDW
Qualifying top scorer: Andrea Belotti (6)
• Overall the teams have played 12 competitive fixtures. Italy have won five, England have won four and three draws. Italy have scored 13 goals to England's 11.
• Lorenzo Insigne scored the only goal as Italy defeated England on matchday one two years ago. Devis Mangia's Italy went on to reach the final while Stuart Pearce's England finished bottom of Group B having lost all three games.
• The teams at the Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv on 5 June 2013 were:
England: Butland, Clyne, Caulker, Dawson, Henderson, Robinson, Lowe, Shelvey (McEachran 75), Redmond, Sordell (Chalobah), Wickham (Delfouneso 82).
Italy: Bardi, Donati, Biraghi, Verratti, Caldirola, Florenzi, Marrone (Rossi 87), Bianchetti, Borini (Destro 78), Insigne, Immobile (Gabbiadini 60).
• That was the latest instalment of a rivalry that started in the first European U21 Championship in 1978, England beating Italy 2-1 on aggregate (2-1 in Manchester, 0-0 in Rome) with Tony Woodcock's double at Maine Road overturning Salvatore Bagni's opener.
• England also came out on top in the 1984 semi-finals, winning 3-2 over two legs. Dave Sexton's side won the first game 3-1, again at Maine Road, through goals from Mark Chamberlain, Mich d'Avray and Mel Sterland. They escaped the Stadio Artemio Franchi with a 1-0 defeat after Roberto Mancini's 13th-minute strike. England went on to beat Spain 3-0 on aggregate in the final.
• Italy turned the tables with a 3-1 aggregate success in the semi-finals two years later, Roberto Donadoni and Gianluca Vialli securing a 2-0 first-leg win in Pisa before a 1-1 draw in Swindon.
• England won 1-0 home and away in qualifying for the 1998 event, although neither side reached the final tournament.
• In 2000 the teams met at the finals for the first time, Gianni Comandini's goal and an Andrea Pirlo penalty giving Italy – who would go on to beat the Czech Republic 2-1 in the final with Pirlo scoring twice – a 2-0 win on matchday one. England finished third in the group.
• Italy were 2-1 winners in the 2002 group stage, Massimo Maccarone scoring either side of Gareth Barry's reply at Basel's St. Jakob-Park. While Italy lost in the last four, England again failed to get out of the group, finishing fourth.
• In 2007 the teams shared four goals at Arnhem's Gelredome, England taking a two-goal lead through David Nugent (24) and Leroy Lita (26) before Italy fought back through Giorgio Chiellini (36) and Alberto Aquilani (69). This time it was England who progressed, finishing second in Group B, one place above their opponents; they lost 13-12 on penalties to hosts the Netherlands in the last four.
• England are in their fifth straight finals; they failed to get out of the group stage in 2011 and 2013, having been semi-finalists in 2007 and runners-up two years later.
• Champions in 1982 and 1984, England have reached four further semi-finals and also qualified for the final tournament in 2000 and 2002.
• Italy won three successive titles in 1992, 1994 and 19996 and were champions again in 2000 and, most recently, in Germany in 2004.
• The Azzurrini were runners-up in 1986 and again in 2013, losing 4-2 to Spain in Jerusalem. They have reached a further four semi-finals and have featured in eight of the last nine final tournaments, missing out only in 2011.
England: Gareth Southgate
Appointed before the start of the 2013–15 campaign, Southgate signed a 12-month contract extension in January running until summer 2017. In 2006, aged 35, the former England defender had been named Middlesbrough manager, a role he left in October 2009 following their relegation from the Premier League.
Italy: Luigi Di Biagio
Di Biagio was promoted from his role as Italy U20 boss in June 2013, replacing Devis Mangia. The erstwhile Roma and Inter midfielder was in the Azzurri team beaten by David Trezeguet's golden goal for France in the UEFA EURO 2000 final in Rotterdam.