International Friendlies: England v Italy: A Combined XI
The Three Lions are set to face Italy at the Wembley tonight. England have won only one of their last seven matches against the Azzurri. Their last encounter ended in a 1-1 draw in 2015. Gareth Southgate’s side has been unbeaten in last seven matches with a clean sheet in last five. After winning their match against the Netherlands last week, they would look forward to winning this one as well. Italy, on the other hand, lost their last match the Etihad against Argentina and have failed to score in their last three matches.
If Italy go goalless in this match, it would be for the first time that they have not scored in four consecutive matches. The Luigi Di Biagio side will be without Giorgio Chiellini and England will be without injured Harry Kane and has also released Jack Wilshere due to an injury.
The combined XI (4-4-2) comprises of three players each from Napoli and Manchester City, one each from Leicester City, AC Milan, Juventus, Spurs and Paris SG.
GK: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy/Juventus)
If Buffon plays eight more matches, with already 176 to his name, he will be the player with most international caps ever. Donnarumma will have to wait for a while now, and at just 19, probably he won’t mind that even. For instance, Donnamrumma wasn’t even born when Buffon made his international debut. Neither Joe Hart nor inexperienced Jordan Pickford is any match for the Azzurri skipper.
RB: Kyle Walker (England/Manchester City)
Walker has been arguably the best right-back in England for a quite long time now. He is perfect for that position- physical, pacy, great crossing and tacking abilities. With Pep and his undying love for full-backs, one day he'll be the best in the business. His twinkle toes also help him to do some trickery in the final third.
RCB: John Stones (England/Manchester City)
After a not-so-good first season where everyone questioned the price tag for the 23-year-old, it finally seems the light is up for the centre-back. In the first quarter of the season, he was Manchester City's best defender. Before being injured, he was spot-on with the ball at his feet. He managed to keep an impeccable 97% pass completion rate. The former Everton man helps Guardiola's army to initiate attacks in the defensive half itself. He's very physical and is one of the most disciplined defenders in the Premier League. Stones also had a stellar performance against the Netherlands and with Chiellini out, he's the perfect bet.
LCB: Leonardo Bonucci (Italy/AC Milan)
Bonucci, after a shaky start at the beginning of this season at San Siro, has become an important character on the field for Gattuso. The Rossoneri skipper leads his side from the front. He builds an attack from outside-the-box in the defensive half. While defending, he pressures high to dispossess opponents. His strong physique helps in interceptions and blocks.
LB: Kieran Trippier (England/Spurs)
Kevin will play as an inverted full back. He has played earlier in this position with his club, Tottenham. He's given thunderous performances in the Premier League which has also earned him Mauricio Pochettino's trust. Poch picks him over Aurier in the bigger games. Against the Netherlands, Southgate deployed him in the right wing-back position ahead of his senior, Kyle Walker and he didn't disappoint him. He's clearly a far better player and the sky is the limit for the 27-year-old.
RM: Raheem Sterling (England/Manchester City)
This season, Manchester City is one of the most exciting teams to watch. Pep Guardiola has completely reversed the predictions courtesy of his tactics. Among the players thriving under him is Raheem Sterling. The 23-year-old has scored 15 goals this season which includes a couple of injury time winners. This is double the number than his previous season's goal tally. He has also grabbed seven assists and has tight defensive work rate. Sterling despite lacking physical strength is an important character in the field and easily gets the cut ahead of Jesse Lingard and Federico Chiesa.
RCM: Marco Verratti (Italy/Paris SG)
After a failed transfer move to Barcelona and the arrival of Neymar in Paris, everyone expected him to play an important role in the midfield. More or less, he has played to expectations. He maintains a pass completion rate of 91% in the league with 85 passes per 90. Veratti also contributes significantly to the defence making 3.6 tackles and interceptions per 90. He often wins the ball by executing a tackle and starts the counter-attack for his team. Apart from his disciplinary record, he clearly edges out the likes of Henderson and Ox-Chamberlain.
LCM: Jorginho Frello (Italy/Napoli)
Traditionally a defensive midfielder, Jorginho is thriving in Maurizio Sarri's three-man midfield in 4-3-3. He sits in front of the bank of four defenders and also looks to attack against oppositions having a deep defence. He's a very intelligent and versatile player who can switch roles in transition and very important for his team. The Partenopei midfielder has registered an 89% pass completion rate and four tackles-interceptions combined per game this season.
LM: Lorenzo Insigne (Italy/Napoli)
Insigne is playing the football of his life with Napoli challenging Juventus for the Scudetto after exiting the Champions League. He has scored 11 goals and registered eight assists in all competitions this season. He's typically a left winger but likes to take on defenders with his trickery and drive centrally to create. He's great at holding on to the ball due to his excellent agility. The Italian forward also likes to do layoffs and play short passes in the final third.
RCF: Jamie Vardy (England/Leicester City)
In Leicester City's dream season when they won the Premier League, Vardy was one of the best players. His searing pace, experience in big matches and strong physical aesthetic find him a spot here over English prodigy Rashford. Not to forget his impeccable record against the top six which also makes some fans pick him over Romelu Lukaku. One of the best attributes of the 31-year-old is his decision making, especially when on counters. With star striker Harry Kane injured, Vardy is definitely the second-best English striker.
LCF: Ciro Immobile (Italy/Lazio)
Immobile is counted amongst the best strikers in Europe presently. There is nobody to don his shoe in both the sides. He is very agile and quick who has a lot of confidence when the ball is at his feet. The Biancocelesti striker is an important player for his side in their decent run this season. He has scored 24 goals and assisted eight times in the Italian league. He has been involved in a Lazio goal every 69th minute, 40 times this season.