The Italy Men’s National Team suffered a humbling 3-1 defeat to England in 2024 European Championship qualifying Group C at Wembley Stadium. The loss leaves the Azzurri still at risk of missing out on qualification for the tournament in Germany.

After Gianluca Scamacca had given Italy an early lead in London, a Harry Kane brace and Marcus Rashford strike secured the hosts’ place at Euro 2024 and allowed Ukraine to overtake the Azzurri into the second direct qualifying place, after they also beat Malta 3-1.

Italy’s Gianluca Scamacca shoots near England’s Kalvin Phillips. [@Azzurri]

Spalletti approach will keep Italy fans on edge

International football is too often a slow and ponderous affair, but if the Italy shirt had been a slightly lighter shade of blue, you could forgive Italy fans for thinking this was the early stages of a Napoli side Spalletti took to the 2022/23 Serie A title. Until it all went spectacularly wrong in London.

The penalty from which Kane equalised was an individual error from Giovanni Di Lorenzo, but the insistence of the 64-year-old to have an unfamiliar collection of players press so high and aggressively sowed the seeds for the following two breakaway goals that handed victory to the hosts.

However, with time and a bit of fine tuning, the Azzurri will win more games than they lose with Spalletti, entertain far more than under the pragmatism of Roberto Mancini, but test the nerves of supporters.

Dimarco has a rival in Udogie

Italy’s Destiny Udogie dribbles past England’s Phil Foden. [@Azzurri]

Although Inter full-back Federico Dimarco started the 4-0 win over Malta and looked primed for a lengthy Azzurri career, that coach Luciano Spalletti switched to Destiny Udogie for their Wembley Stadium encounter suggests that the veteran tactician has other ideas.

After just 11 minutes of senior international football against the Maltese, the former Hellas Verona youngster showed few signs of being overawed by the occasion and rewarded the trust shown in him by the ex-Napoli boss.

It was Udogie who drove forward with the ball to set Italy on their way to the opening goal on 15 minutes and forced a low save from England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford just before half-time. An early booking showed a lack of experience, but the Tottenham Hotspur left-back will put plenty of pressure on the Nerazzurr man in years to come.

Italy’s Gianluca Scamacca shoots near England’s Kalvin Phillips. [@Azzurri]

Stephan El Shaarawy will never be the answer to Italy’s attacking problems

Other than a pass during the build-up to the Scamacca goal that gave brief hope of an unexpected victory, AS Roma attacker El Shaarawy was somehow still on the pitch when the referee blew the final whistle. However, after no goals in eight appearances for the Giallorossi this season, the 30-year-old provided the same contribution that earned him a return to the Italian national side after a two-year absence.

The contribution of Giacomo Bonaventura showed the intelligence in bringing age and experience back into the team after a long-term absence, but the Fiorentina midfielder has been having one of his best starts to a Serie A campaign. Whereas, El Shaarawy seems to drift towards the later stages of a career that has arguably been in decline since he left Rome for the Chinese Super League in 2019, and should be nowhere near the next Italy squad.