England U21 vs Italy U21 by Luke
After a disappointing 0:1 defeat in the opening round against Portugal, where they actually didn't deserve to suffer a loss, English side improved their position with a narrow 1:0 victory against Sweden on Sunday evening. They were slightly better than their opponents, but the victory came only five minutes before the final whistle.
Lingard was the scorer as the team now completely got back into the game for the semi-finals spot, but they will probably need a victory here in order to secure their spot. Defender John Stones from Everton is now available to play after he missed first two matches with concussion. Offensive midfielder Alex Pritchard will miss this one even though he played in previous games and now should be replaced by Jesse Lingard, who came on and scored in the previous game against Sweden. Striker Saido Berahino withdrew from the squad before the Championship, while out injured is also goalkeeper Jonathan Bond.
Italy, on the other side, showed the least out of four teams in the group so far, having only one point after two rounds played. They lost to Sweden with a 2:1 result, even though they have very good position for the most of the match. Their opponents stood with a man less in 28th and the Italians were given a penalty kick which was converted via Berardi, but the Italians simply started playing too passive looking like they only want the time to pass.
Being so passive didn't work out for them and they paid the price in 56th when Guidetti equalized, while the things got completely complicated with exclusion from Sturaro in 80th minute, with the Swedish side taking a penalty goal in 86th via Kiese Thelin. Second game for them wasn't much different in the terms of being effective, as they stood to a goalless draw against Portuguese, even though the side wasn't that bad and had some chances created. Danilo Catadi is expected to keep his place in the starting lineup since Stefano Sturaro still remains sidelined due suspension.
England will be looking to get a victory here and avoid their third consecutive group stage exit at Euro for Under 21 year old players. They will be missing offensive Alex Pritchard who was surely the best player against Sweden before the limped off, but the team still have more quality than the Italians. Draw can't be excluded here, but I really don't see the Italians taking all three points here and knocking the English side out of the competition.