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It is never too easy to get excited by friendlies, particularly during these international weeks of football™, but among the likes of Liechtenstein v San Marino, Russia v Kazakhstan, Portugal v Cape Verde and, er, Italy v England a rare gem sporadically pops up. Holland v Spain. A repeat of last year’s amazing World Cup group game. A repeat of the 2010 World Cup final.
These are oddly worrying times for both sides. And there is plenty of pressure on both managers, Guus Hiddink and Vicente del Bosque, after less than impressive starts to their respective Euro 2016 qualification campaigns.
“The defenders were only passing the ball to the midfielders and they then passed it back to the defenders. The people with little creativity were dictating play. This is not what you want. The problems only got bigger.
“After the level of the Eredivisie and the performances of the Dutch teams in the Champions League and Europa League, it is now clear where the national team stands as well. We are suffering all over the place and I really wonder when we will finally wake up.Continue reading...
- Live updates from the international friendly in Turin
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any thoughts
- Or you can tweet him @NickAmes82
- Gallery: Italy v England, 82 years of football rivalry
- David Squires on ... the life of Harry Kane
- Keep tabs on the rest of tonight’s internationals in our live clockwatch!
Italy: Buffon; Ranocchia, Bonucci, Chiellini; Darmian, Parolo, Florenzi, Valdifiori, Soriano; Pelle, Eder.
Graziano Pelle is in! Only Giorgio Chiellini, of these players, was in action during that game in Manaus.
England: Hart; Clyne, Smalling, Jagielka, Gibbs; Jones,
Delph, Henderson, Rooney; Kane, Walcott.
There you go. Rooney at the top of the midfield, Phil Jones at the bottom of it. HARRY KANE STARTS and nothing else matters Theo Walcott partners him up top.
Ok, we’ve got that out of that out of the way. Kane rhymes with Caine and he’s going to do a job in Italy, just like in the film. That’s the joke, there, and you can have that one.
Welcome then to Italy v Harry Kane + 10 (as if he’ll need them!), which brings the perpetuation of an 82-year football rivalry and hopefully a lot more besides, with both teams no doubt eager to litmus-test things with under 15 months to go until they – presumably – do battle in France. It is just nine and a half months since they met in Manaus, Italy winning that one but England producing enough of interest to suggest something other than the grisly end that both teams eventually met, but things have already moved on a fair bit for both sides and there is plenty of reason for both to produce a show tonight.
Nick will be here shortly.Continue reading...
• More Olympic news
In 2016 Rio de Janeiro will host the summer Olympic Games. Around the city preparations continue. However, work is not confined to the stadiums, the athletes’ village or the bustling HQ near the Sambódromo, the venue for the annual carnival. In the favelas, the dangerous shanty towns that climb the hills of the city, coaches are working to bring Brazil up to speed with a new Olympic sport.
Last week, coaches from Premiership Rugby introduced their game to the children of Cachoeirinha, a favela not too far from the Maracanã. The contrast with the great football stadium or even Kingsholm on a Friday night was of course stark.Continue reading...
• ‘Personally, I think we should look at four-day Test cricket’
• ECB document proposes fewer Tests and new T20 event
The incoming England & Wales Cricket Board chairman, Colin Graves, has confirmed he will push for the introduction of four-day Test matches in a bid to reverse dwindling global interest in the format.
While attendances in England will inevitably be strong during this Ashes summer, there are growing fears that less attractive opposition might fail to pull in the crowds. It follows a worldwide trend that has seen audiences for Test cricket lag behind the 20- and 50-over forms of the game.Continue reading...
• ‘First Lieutenant has as good a chance as any,’ says Mouse Morris
Nina Carberry will take another shot at becoming the first female jockey to win the Grand National a week on Saturday when she climbs aboard First Lieutenant. The horse’s trainer, Mouse Morris, confirmed on Tuesday that he had booked the Irish amateur jockey to replace Bryan Cooper, suspended for breaches of the whip rules during the Cheltenham Festival.
Morris acknowledged that Carberry has not ridden First Lieutenant in a race. “But she’s ridden him at home,” he said and added that the pair had schooled well together over a National-style fence in recent days.Continue reading...
• Struggling former World No1 priced at 50-1 to win Masters
• Woods drops out of world’s top 100 for first time since 1996
Confirmation of Tiger Woods’s competitive return at next week’s Masters is surely edging closer, after the golfer’s private jet was spotted at Augusta Regional Airport on Tuesday morning.
Woods’s participation in the first major of the year has been in doubt after he withdrew from the Farmers Insurance Open in early February. A subsequent statement from the 14-time major winner said he would only play again when his troubled game was “tournament ready”. This week, Woods dropped out of the world’s top 100 ranked players.Continue reading...
• Nathan Hughes’ presence is key for Wasps for Toulon tie
• Joe Launchbury nears return to fitness to lift England
With Northampton arranging for a consultant neurosurgeon to help assess whether George North is fit to return to play after being knocked unconscious last Friday, the Wasps director of rugby Dai Young has reiterated that the man who caused the injury, Nathan Hughes, did so unwittingly.
On Tuesday night the RFU’s disciplinary committee is due to reach a verdict on whether or not to punish Hughes, who was sent off after colliding with North and catching his head with his knee. While the verdict was pending, Young insisted that he didn’t think the offence “was a red card”, and that the dismissal itself had been punishment enough. He said too that if Hughes was banned, the club would certainly appeal against the decision.Continue reading...