England U20 will take on Italy U20 in the last 16 of the FIFA U20 World Cup at Estadio Unico On Wednesday (Thursday IST). The anticipated matchup between the two European teams is expected to be a thrilling one. England has never lost to Italy, having faced each other five times before. England finished at the top of Group E with seven points, after securing a 3-2 victory against Uruguay, the other top team in the group.
However, it won’t be an easy task for the English team, considering Italy’s performance in the tournament thus far. Italy finished second in Group D with six points, trailing behind Brazil, whom they defeated 3-2. England needs to be prepared to face Italy’s aggressive and provocative defense to succeed.
Winning the title is Italy’s main objective for this edition, as stated by coach Carmine Nunziata. The team’s offensive capabilities match their defensive strength, with Cesare Casadei, a loanee from Reading owned by Chelsea, currently leading the tournament’s scoring charts with four goals. He poses a significant threat that England’s defenders must handle.
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Italy suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat to England in the semi-finals of the 2022 UEFA European Under-19 Championship last June. While Nunziata claims they are not seeking revenge, another loss to England would generate a wave of negative headlines in their home country.
England U20 vs Italy U20 match preview
England and Italy are all set to clash in their last-16 match of the Under-20 World Cup at the Estadio Unico Diego Armando Maradona in La Plata on Wednesday (Thursday IST).
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England finished at the top of Group E, securing a straightforward path to the knockout rounds. Meanwhile, Italy ended up in second place in Group D, trailing behind Brazil.
England had already secured a top-two finish in Group E before their final match against Iraq, which ended in a dull goalless draw. However, this result had no impact on their qualification as group winners for the last 16. The team previously defeated Tunisia 1-0 and emerged victorious in a thrilling 3-2 encounter against Uruguay, keeping their hopes of winning a second Under-20 World Cup title alive, following their memorable triumph in 2017.
Although they are the defending champions, England failed to qualify for the tournament four years ago. However, they are now on track to rectify that disappointment, having reached the knockout rounds for only the sixth time in their history.
On the other hand, Italy faced a more challenging situation in Group D. After a convincing 3-2 victory over Brazil in their opening match, they suffered a 2-0 defeat to Nigeria on matchday two, leaving them three points behind their African counterparts. They couldn’t afford any mistakes in their match against the Dominican Republic, who were considered the weakest team in the group.
Italy have begun to make a name for themselves at the Under-20 level. They reached the semi-finals in the 2017 and 2019 tournaments, winning bronze in the 2017 edition. However, their record against England is not favourable, as they have failed to win in their previous six encounters. They lost the first four matches and managed to secure two draws of 2-2 and 1-1 in the Under-20 Elite League.
The winners of the match will advance to the quarter-finals, where they will face either Colombia or Slovakia.
England U20 possible starting lineup:
Cox; Quansah, Edwards, Humphreys; Oyegoke, Gyabi, Scott, Vale; Devine; Joseph, Scarlett
Italy Under-20 possible starting lineup:
Desplanches; Zanotti, Guarino, Fontanarosa, Giovane; Prati, Faticanti, Casadei; Baldanzi; Pafundi, Ambrosino
England U20 vs Italy U20 prediction
England possess players who have the potential to be game-changers, including Dane Scarlett, Bashir Humphreys, Alfie Devine, and Darko Gyabi. Each has scored one goal.
Although Casadei has been the standout performer for Italy so far, Matteo Prati and Giuseppe Ambrosino have also shown intent. They have scored one goal each.
Considering their disciplined approach and outstanding midfield, England are expected to secure a narrow victory.
Prediction: England U-20 2-1 Italy U-20
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Date, kick-off time, venue
The FIFA World Cup Under-20 round of 16 match between England and Italy will be played at the Estadio Ciudad de La Plata stadium in La Plata city, Argentina, and will kick off at 21:00 UTC.