England Report v Italy (a)
Juventus Stadium, Turin
In many ways Tuesday was a 'typical friendly' against Italy, it was definitely a classic case of 'a game of two halves' with us well off it in the 1st half and VERY MUCH at it in the 2nd to earn a 1-1 draw in Turin.
This was a draw, which all in all, I think we merited. Neither side, probably, deserved to lose and therefore the draw was about right!
A number of withdrawals always threatened to make this a disjointed England performance, and set-up, which most certainly was the case in the 1st half the 'experimental' line-up and, in many cases, personnel - as said, perhaps out of necessity as much as anything else! - did not work...
Phil Jones in midfield did not work at all, the fact that his Man United teammate Chris Smalling went off ill benefited him, and England, as it brought Michael Carrick into midfield and saw Jones drop back into defence. Carrick, I have to say, again had a fine game and looks to be very much in the driving seat for a role in midfield as part of that diamond formation.
One looking less certain of his place is Theo Walcott, he offered little to nothing! As things stand, unless Walcott is playing regularly and performing for Arsenal between now and the end of the season that overwhelming 'loyalty' that Roy Hodgson has to his players, as he looks to keep a familiar group together and bond that it brings, is the only thing that will keep him in the squad! As things stand he would not be in mine I do not think...
Even though Wayne Rooney had seen a deflected shot hit the bar Joe Hart turned a dangerous Marco Parolo effort over with Italy offering a bit more than us in the 1st half.
They got the lead, which had kind of been threatened, when Southampton striker Graziano Pelle (29) was able to flick home a header - Jones really should have done more, and better, in looking to cut out Giorgio Chiellini unchallenged semi run and cross into the box.
The 2nd half subs made a real impact, especially Ross Barkley. He still has some things to learn, and showed some naivety at times, but he has all the talent in the world and caused Italy problems - he could potentially be world-class for England in the years ahead!
It was another sub, as he has so often for us, that scored an awesome goal to earn us a draw. You do not have many better goalies in the game, even at his 'veteran' stage, than Gianluigi Buffon but he did not get anywhere near Andros Townsend's (79) effort.
We had several breaks, and chances, to have won this game - Rooney could have scored a couple in the 2nd half but Buffon, one when he was clean through at 1-1, saved well and also denied 'midis man' Harry Kane but all in all a draw was about fair.
This keeps our unbeaten run, since the world cup, going and did offer up a few answers to some questions from a side that was a few short of being full strength...some will feel they are very much in with a chance of staying in this squad, if not the starting XI while others have not really shown they merit a starting place as things stand perhaps?
Vital England on:
Vital England on: