SO are you already in World Cup fever?
Will you hang up your blackboard, buy England’s hideous new shirt and belt out World In Motion and This Time (We’ll Get It Right)?
nope Didn’t think so.
Not after England were condemned to relegation to the Nations League without a win – or a single open goal – in five games and just one game left before a corrupt and immoral tournament in Qatar.
England’s millionaire footballers may have won a hefty tax cut from the Chancellor yesterday, but Gareth Southgate’s shares are falling faster than the pound on the FX markets.
This Three Lions side lacked identity and entertainment value as they spied the San Siro and were beaten by Giacomo Raspadori’s blistering second-half finish.
The biggest roar of the night came from England fans as a paper airplane – a national symbol of boredom – was sent onto the pitch from high up in the nosebleed seats of this vast old stadium.
Southgate will recall similar scenes before the last World Cup in Russia – and that campaign went well enough.
But based on that Nations League campaign, no one should be happy to see England emerge from even a World Cup group with Iran, USA and Wales.
This one hell of a lot of crumbling stadium ruins has been bulldozed, but it still holds a great mystique.
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England have not played here since 1939 and they have not beaten the Azzurri on Italian soil since 1961.
Southgate earned Eric Dier his first cap for England in two years, using Bukayo Saka at the troubled left-back position.
The England manager’s favorite back five has been put in place – at least until Italy scored – and it’s likely to be his Plan A in Qatar.
On the eve of that game, when Southgate spoke of “compromising” his decision-making during a miserable period of play in June, he was probably referring to the fact that he frequently used a crowd-pleasing flat back four — which is the The case was seldom performed better than hers.
The Italians – European champions but absent in Qatar after a shock play-off defeat by North Macedonia – had West Ham’s Gianluca Scamacca in charge.
After a stripping opera singer ripping off her cape between God Save The King and the Italian anthem, the hosts got off to a flying start.
England, in that goddamn kit, were sluggish – Maguire made an early error and then Federico Dimarco crossed to the far post where Scamacca’s header was scraped away by Nick Pope, who was substituting for the injured Jordan Pickford.
It was scratchy stuff from England. They wasted far too many free-kicks in their own half – a trait Southgate is keen to shed at this tournament.
There were moments when the Three Lions threatened at the break, notably when Saka – oddly voted England’s Player of the Year by the fans – led an attack but Kane’s shot boomed well over.
And at halftime the match seemed to be dying a death. It was as bad as the goalless draw between the same two sides at Molineux in June – and those of us who witnessed that can assure you that’s saying something.
Dier looked solid in the middle of the back three, as he has for Tottenham since Antonio Conte’s arrival, and there were promising moments from Jude Bellingham but the Borussia Dortmund boy didn’t see enough of the ball.
But we were grasping at straws of positivity. As a spectacle, it was a miserable 45 minutes.
The second half got off to a lively start – Dier saved with a fine tackle to deny Bryan Cristante a shot on goal, then a shot from Raheem Sterling was stopped by Leonardo Bonucci’s foul on the edge of the box.
But Reece James, who scored the most set pieces, shot the free kick well over.
England’s set pieces, such a strength at the last World Cup in Russia, have been largely poor for some time.
Southgate has three of the best dead ball dealers in world football in James Ward-Prowse, Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold – he may have to find a way to bring one of them onto his team.
After a corner from James, Kane suffered a terrible headbutt with Rafael Toloi but after much treatment the England captain pressed on.
But in the 68th minute the Italians scored a smart goal that Kyle Walker will not have been particularly proud of.
A beautiful ball over Bonucci’s point caught England’s dozing defense and Raspadori teased Walker back and forth before hammering a smashing finish into the bottom corner.
Southgate sent Grealish and Luke Shaw for Saka and Walker, returning to a back four.
And there were suddenly more sparks over England – Kane forced a double save from Gianluigi Donnarumma with two angled punches.
But Pope had to be on the alert to block Manolo Gabbiadini with his legs and then Dimarco drove into the inside of the post, with Italy looking far more incisive than their visitors.
England were second best against a team that won’t even be in Qatar.
Don’t expect to be beer tossing around your local pub during November and December.
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6291719/italy-england-nations-league-relegated-match-report/ Italy 1 England 0: Three Lions are relegated from Nations League A and face horror tie at Euro 2024 after lackluster performance