Absences, poor form and controversy: England did not prepare for the clash against Italy on Friday in the League of Nations (8:45 p.m.), in a serene climate.
Probably never since becoming England manager in 2016 had Gareth Southgate come close to a game in such a sensitive context as his side’s trip to the San Siro on Friday, to the clash against Italy in the League of Nations (8:45 p.m., live on the L’Équipe channel).
First, because there is a sports emergency: the Three Lions must beat the Italian team, which had deprived them of being crowned at Wembley in the Euro Cup final in the summer of 2021 (1-1, 3-2 in chips), to avoid relegation to League B. Bottom of their group, Harry Kane and his teammates remain in the Nations League with two draws and two losses, including a humiliation in Wolverhampton against Hungary (0-4, June 14) .
However, in an attempt to regain victory against the Nazionale, Southgate has a group weakened by injuries (Jordan Pickford, Kalvin Phillips, Dominic Calvert-Lewin…) and the poor form of certain executives, whom he who has remembered despite his absence from the club playing time, such as Luke Shaw, Ben Chilwell and Harry Maguire.
Tensions between players and advisers
Elections that the technician was forced to justify, this Thursday at a press conference: “Clearly, this is not an ideal situation. We wanted to keep the structure of this group, so that they always feel involved. But they know that for some of them, they will need to play more regularly in the coming weeks. »
If this type of debate accompanies almost all meetings, more surprising verbal contests have marked the daily life of the Three Lions in recent days, such as the one between Jack Grealish and Sky consultant Graeme Souness. “I don’t know what his problem is, he keeps talking about me”he threw the first on Tuesday, over the second, who quietly answered him on Thursday: “Current players do not accept criticism”.
At the same time, former international midfielder Danny Murphy, on Talk Sport, attacked Eric Dier, who had complained about his family being insulted in stadiums: “You are a big boy playing for your country. So swallow your moods and move on. »
A statement on Qatar “welcome, but too late”
The most significant thing is that the English Federation (FA) has been harshly criticized for his press release published on Wednesday, in which, in particular, he asked FIFA to compensate the families of the workers who died during the construction of the stadiums for the World Cup in Qatar. “This press release is welcome, but very late, eight weeks before the World Cup, after twelve years of abuse”Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch, told The Athletic.
Also on this issue, Southgate had to go to the front on Thursday: “FA officials met with workers in Qatar, asked how they were affected. But there is a limit to what can be done in this area. » Usually very talkative in the face of the media, the head of the Three Lions struggled, at the time, to find his words, symbolizing a team that was disoriented at the moment.