The host of injury withdrawals that come part and parcel of any England international friendly preamble dominate the headlines ahead of the Three Lions’ non-competitive clash with Italy.
Roy Hodgson won’t be able to call upon integral attacking assets Raheem Sterling and Danny Welbeck in Turin, while experienced midfielder James Milner will also be missing following Friday’s 4-0 decimation of Lithuania.
This adds to a raft of pullouts prior to the Euro 2016 qualifier, but England’s price of 21/10 should still appeal.
Antonio Conte’s troops can be backed as 29/20 favourites for the match at Juventus Stadium, with the draw an 11/5 outsider.
This pair of punts can be safely disregarded, however, with the Three Lions the most appetising of the offerings.
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There’s a host of support for folks willing to fight England’s corner, namely scintillating form of seven straight wins and just two goals conceded since a nightmarish performance in last summer’s World Cup.
The Azzurri were almost as hopeless as their next opponents in the land of joga bonito, bowing out in the group-stage alongside Hodgson’s outfit, and have also enjoyed an upturn in results under Conte’s command.
Two draws on their own quest to qualify for Euro 2016, as well as a last-gasp 2-1 win over Azerbaijan though, means they’re still off the pace England have set at the top of the international form table.
The key factor behind why the travelling party are the ones to back, however, is the two Italian thorns in their side from recent meetings will not be in attendance in Turin.
Andrea Pirlo and Mario Balotelli are the twosome in question, with the former injured and the latter out of form.
When the pair met in their World Cup Group D dust up in Manaus, it was combination of their forces that brought about Italy’s 2-1 win, while Pirlo’s majestic performance in the Euro 2012 quarter-final collision between the two left England feeling proud they managed to take the tie to penalties.
In addition to his majestically chipped spot kick that helped the Azzurri to a 4-2 shootout win, the Juventus star’s passing prowess was a key reason behind Balotelli being afforded a staggering ten shots over the 120 minutes.
Pirlo was at it again in his country’s 2-1 success when the pair next did battle in a competitive capacity, touching the ball a game-high 116 times and accurate with all but 4.6% of his passes.
His most telling contribution was an incisive dummy that led to Claudio Marchisio’s opening strike, while it was Liverpool’s Balotelli who nodded in the winner.
Neither player featured when England beat Italy 2-1 in their last friendly face off and their absence will bring about another Three Lions triumph here.