England travel to Italy to face the defending European champions in their first game since the quarter-final defeat to France in the World Cup in December.
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Euro 2024 qualifying kicks off with a repeat of the most-recent European Championships final. Just 620 days ago, Italy beat England on penalties at Wembley, thereby lifting this trophy for the first time in 53 years.
Now, both begin their latest qualifying campaign hoping that, in 481 days time, they’ll be crowned champions of Europe in Berlin.
Since that success at Wembley, Gli Azzurri have missed out on a second successive World Cup, ignominiously ousted by North Macedonia in the play-offs almost exactly a year ago.
Despite that, they’ve shown faith in Roberto Mancini, who’s already proved his worth, guiding Italy to this summer’s Nations League finals. To get there, they topped a group that also featured England, drawing 0-0 when the two met at Molineux, before a 1-0 win at San Siro in September.
This extends Italy’s unbeaten competitive streak against England to nine matches, dating back 46 years, very much hoping to make that ten in Naples.
England meantime were last seen in Qatar being beaten by France in the World Cup quarter-finals. Since then, the headline news is that Gareth Southgate is staying on as manager, seeking to end 58 years of hurt next summer.
The Three Lions haven’t missed a tournament since 2008, losing just two of 66 qualifiers since that defeat to Croatia in the pouring rain under Steve McClaren.
This though will be a key double-header for England, who welcome Ukraine to Wembley on Sunday.