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U21 Group B: England v Italy preview

Gareth Southgate has asked his England team to step up a gear and get the "right service" to his strikers against an Italy side ready to impose their game in the Group B decider.

Gareth Southgate is weighing up his options ahead of the Group B decider in Olomouc
Gareth Southgate is weighing up his options ahead of the Group B decider in Olomouc ©Getty Images

• England and Italy meet in Group B decider in Olomouc
• Gareth Southgate wants England to provide "right service" for Harry Kane
• Luigi Di Biagio believes Italy can impose their game on England
• "It is an extremely important game and the boys know it," adds Di Biagio
• England have John Stones back; Stefan Sturaro is suspended for Italy

How it stands
England and Italy are both chasing a place in the semi-finals of the U21 EURO. England will guarantee qualification from Group B with a victory while Italy need a win and a defeat for Sweden against Portugal. A more detailed breakdown of the permutations can be found here.

Possible lineups
Butland; Jenkinson, Stones, Gibson, Garbutt; Chalobah, Ward-Prowse; Redmond, Carroll, Lingard; Kane
Misses next match if booked: Gibson, Jenkinson

Italy: Bardi; Zappacosta, Rugani, Romagnoli, Biraghi; Benassi, Viviani, Cataldi; Berardi, Belotti, Verdi 
Out: Sturaro (suspended)
Misses next match if booked: Francesco Bardi, Federico Bernardeschi, Matteo Bianchetti, Cristiano Biraghi, Alessio Romagnoli, Federico Viviani

Gareth Southgate, England coach

Italy changed three of their midfielders [against Portugal] – one because of suspension. We've got to look at physical freshness, tactical decisions and we'll look at the opposition and what they need and what we need. I am clear in my mind, but at the moment I've not told the players.

The worst that could happen has gone, subconsciously they didn't want to be a group that went home without a win so as far as I am concerned how far can we go and how do we get better? Let's go for it and let's start to really accelerate now in the way we play.

We have to look at whether we've created enough clear-cut openings because I don't think we've missed a glaring chance. We have to make sure the service is right and also, though we want to dominate possession and dictate games, we have to make sure we are not toothless at the end of it. That balance is important for us. In the first game we created more chances than Portugal but people said we didn't control the game; in the second game we had 65 per cent possession and people said we didn't move the ball quickly enough.

[On Harry Kane] I don't think he has missed a clear-cut chance yet so we have to look at have we given him the right service and have we provided and that he is ready and focused. I am happy with him.

This is an Italian team we respect. They have some individually talented players, they have a collective spirit which Italian teams always have – they are a big footballing nation. Italy are very unlucky to only be on one point – they went toe to toe with Portugal the other night.

Luigi Di Biagio, Italy coach
Today I will have to consider several situations before choosing my team for tomorrow. We're able to play either with two strikers or with our usual 4-3-3. How many players will I change? The day before the last game I was thinking of changing only three but in the end I changed more. But for sure I will make some changes.

It is an extremely important game and the boys know it. The presence of some big figures from the federation [including senior coach Antonio Conte] is a spur but not an added pressure – these are mature boys. Having Antonio Conte here every day is great for us.

[Domenico] Berardi is very tired but he will play. England have top-level players and Harry Kane is the diamond in their team. I think if we play as we did against Portugal, we have a great chance of winning this game.

We've showed we always want to play our football, and we succeeded in doing that against Portugal and in parts against Sweden. We are ready to impose our style of play. Tomorrow we have no choice – we have to win. Then we'll see [what happens]. I am convinced the other game will not end in a draw but we have to think only about ourselves, otherwise we risk losing our game here.

Form guide
England: WLWWW
Italy: DLLDW

Senior internationals in squad (caps)
 England: John Stones (4), Calum Chambers (3), Harry Kane (2), Jack Butland (1), Carl Jenkinson (1)

Match fact
• Southgate played in the England team that qualified for the 1998 FIFA World Cup with a 0-0 draw against Italy in Rome in October 1997 – a result that forced the Azzurri into a play-off. Check out the details and much more in our extensive match background.