Can England Buck The Trend to defeat the Netherlands and Italy?

This international break is a crucial one for England manager Gareth Southgate. The Three Lions boss has just two games to run the rule over a number of new faces and fringe players as he attempts to put together a 30-man preliminary squad, which needs to be named before the 14th May 2018.

With these two forthcoming games against two European giants who failed to make the finals this summer, the Netherlands on Friday evening before they face Italy at Wembley on Tuesday, Southgate has picked a rather inexperienced squad with four uncapped players for both games.

With several England regulars either omitted from selection due to a lack of form, injury or not playing regularly for their club, this is a chance for these players to stake a strong claim to be part of the final 23 that England will name 10 days prior to the start of the World Cup on June 14th.

Southgate has selected the following 26-man squad for both games (it was originally 27, but Ryan Bertrand was forced to withdraw through injury)

England Squad

  • Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (West Ham), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Jack Butland (Stoke), Nick Pope (Burnley)
  • Defenders: Kyle Walker (Man City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham), Ryan Bertrand* (Southampton), Danny Rose (Tottenham), John Stones (Man City), James Tarkowski (Burnley), Alfie Mawson (Swansea), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Harry Maguire (Leicester)
  • Midfielders: Eric Dier (Tottenham), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jake Livermore (WBA), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Liverpool), Dele Alli (Tottenham), Raheem Sterling (Man City), Ashley Young (Man Utd), Jesse Lingaard (Man Utd), Lewis Cook (Bournemouth)
  • Attackers: Danny Welbeck (Arsenal), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Marcus Rashford (Man Utd)

The four uncapped players in the squad are Nick Pope and James Tarkowski of Burnley, Swansea’s Alfie Mawson and Bournemouth midfielder Lewis Cook, though Southgate knows both Mawson and Cook well for their efforts for him when he was manager of the England u21 team.

What we are going to do now is look at what England’s chances of victory are in both games as well as some tips for each game, starting with Friday night’s clash at the Jordi Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam.

Netherlands v England

The Netherlands have appointed ex-Southampton and Everton boss Ronald Koeman as their new manager following Danny Blind’s departure and Koeman has already made a statement omitting Blind’s son Daley and Watford’s Daryl Janmaat from his squad and bringing in a number of younger faces.

Netherlands Squad

  • Goalkeepers: Jasper Cillessen (Barcelona), Jeroen Zoet (PSV), Marco Bizot (AZ)
  • Defenders: Stefan de Vrij (Lazio), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Kenny Tete (Lyon), Patrick Van Aanholt (Crystal Palace), Nathan Ake (Bournemouth), Mattijs De Ligt (Ajax), Tim Fosu Mensah (Crystal Palace), Hans Hateboer (Atalanta)
  • Midfielders: Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool), Kevin Strootman (Roma), Tonny Vilhena (Feyenoord), Davy Propper (Brighton), Marten de Roon (Atalanta), Donny van de Beek (Ajax), Guus Til (AZ)
  • Attackers: Ryan Babel (Besiktas), Memphis Depay (Lyon), Quincy Promes (Spartak Moscow), Bas Dost (Sporting), Steven Berghuis (Feyenoord), Justin Kluivert (Ajax), Wout Weghorst (AZ)

In truth, England should not feat the Dutch too much despite having a poor record against them and having not beaten them since Euro 1996. The Netherlands are unbeaten in the last seven against England and in truth, given England’s dearth of attacking threat since Harry Kane’s injury, I think they are a good bet to make it eight.

That said, I don’t think this is the greatest Dutch side England will have faced over the years. While possessing some quality defenders and midfielders, I think their goalkeeping situation isn’t helped by the first choice being a reserve at Barcelona and they do lack an out and out goalscorer since the retirement of Robin Van Persie.

In terms of my tips, I think this has the look of a drawn game and with Gareth Southgate goals are always at a premium for England,. They drew their last two games 0-0 against Brazil and Germany but I think they’ll find the net here, but I am also banking on the Dutch doing likewise.  You can either back the draw at 2/1 with Coral or you can back the 1-1 draw at 5/1 with Coral, personally, I think the value and flexibility on the draw bet is the better option here.

If you are looking for a first goalscorer to pair with your match result bet, then I think a good bet is a Dutch player as England tend not to start these games particularly well. The Dutch’s attackers are not a top ranked bunch so I’d go instead for a midfielder with Brighton’s Davy Propper a decent shout at 12/1

For England, I’d back an Anytime Goalscorer and I think that Gareth Southgate will want a look at some faster players out wide, I think Vardy will likely get a central role with Rashford, Sterling and Lingard likely to be the wider men and of those I think Rashford’s striking ability plus his skill with a dead ball mean he is a good option at 9/4.

England v Italy

After losing out in the playoffs to Sweden, Luigi Di Biagio has taken on the task of rebuilding this Italy side that did suffer from a high percentage of older players. One of those returns in an emotional tribute to the ex-Fiorentina and Italy defender Davide Astori who died so trafically in February,with Gianluigi Buffon returning from retirement for this one international break.

Italy Squad

  • Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Gianlugi Donnarumma (Milan), Mattia Perin (Genoa)
  • Defenders: Leonardo Bonucci (Milan), Matteo Darmian (Man Utd), Mattia De Sciglio (Juventus), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Angelo Ogbonna (West Ham), Davide Zappacosta (Chelsea), Leonardo Spinazzola (Atalanta), Daniele Rugani (Juventus), Gian Marco Ferrari (Sampdoria)
  • Midfielders: Marco Parolo (Lazio), Marco Verrati (Paris St Germain), Giacomo Bonaventura (Milan), Roberto Gagliardini (Inter), Jorginho (Napoli), Bryan Cristante (Atalanta), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma)
  • Attackers: Antonio Candreva (Inter), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Andrea Belotti (Torino), Simone Verdi (Bologna), Federico Chiesa (Fiorentina), Patrick Cutrone (Milan)

Italy have a fine recent record against England and in almost all their key matches over the years, the Azzuri have come away with the result they needed, such as when defeating England 2-1 in the group stage of World Cup 2014. England last beat Italy 2-1 back in 2012 and in truth, I don’t hold out much hope for them at Wembley on Tuesday.

The reason for that is I think Italy have some very bright attacking players in Candreva, Immobile, Insigne and Belotti, while they are very strong in central midfield too. Defensively, they may lack some of the substance afforded by Giorgio Chiellini, but they will still be well organised and strong and precisely the kind of team England struggle against.

With Gareth Southgate likely to want to experiment with his line up too, I feel this plays into Italian hands and as such my first tip for this game is a win for Italy, which is currently a 23/10 shot with Coral Sport.

Alongside that I also feel that this is a game where both teams will find a goal (I fancy a 2-1 win for the Italians) and I am backing the Both Teams to Score bet here at 20/23 with Coral.

I also feel the game will see a tighter first half give way to a more open second when Italy will claim the win, so I am backing the HT/FT bet of Draw/Italy, which is a 6/1 shot with Coral.