Italy v England Fouls Sheet
Italy v England
Roberto Mancini stated in a recent interview that he believes Italy’s rivalry with England has become a “classic” as these two teams meet for the fourth time in less than two years for the European Championship Qualifier on Thursday night.
England’s record against Italy is poor and they’ve failed to win a competitive game against the Azzurris since the 1977 World Cup. But Italy is far from perfect right now. They’re in a classic transition phase, and despite picking up a draw and a win since these two teams met at the Euro finals in 2020, they failed to feature at all in Qatar.
This should be an extremely competitive match, especially with Harry Kane pushing to smash the all-time England goal-scoring record. Both teams combined to rack up 29 fouls in each of the last two matches between these teams and I believe we can expect the same tonight.
Odds of 1.3 for a single foul by Luke Shaw almost seems too good to be true if he starts against Italy.
The Italians often play a 4-3-3 formation but you might not know it from watching them. This is because both the left and right backs are encouraged to transition into midfield during build-up play. Giovanni Di Lorenzo plays this role on the right and will release Nicolò Barella to push forward and feed or cross the ball to the forwards.
This naturally creates a lot of pressure for the defending wingers who are liable to make a hasty foul against this fast transition. In this case Luke Shaw, a player known for racking up the fouls, will be defending that right wing. In fact, he’s picked up more fouls than any other Man United player this season and averages 1.76 fouls per game. He’s also picked up at least one foul in every single United Premier League game bar one this season.
Di Lorenzo is fouled on average 0.93 times per 90 this season for Napoli, whereas Barella picks up 1.70 fouls per 90 for Inter Milan. And the last time these two teams met in September both these players combined to pick up 4 fouls.
Shaw didn’t start in that game, but if he does on Thursday night, I like the odds of him picking up one or two fouls.
The hype surrounding Jude Bellingham is justified when you consider the way he’s helped to transform his Dortmund and England sides with his quality in positional play and high pressing capabilities.
Bellingham has been fouled 91 times in the Bundesliga this season, which is 20 more times than the second-place player. On average, he’s fouled an incredible 2.64 times per 90 and it’s almost unbelievable to read that this is the lowest this stat has been since his 2019-20 season at Birmingham.
Although Bellingham will often line up on the left for England, Southgate has encouraged him to play across the width of the pitch in midfield and occasionally pushes higher up for a chance on goal.
This means he’s likely to cross paths with Jorginho who acts as a defensive midfield pivot for Italy. Jorginho averages 0.77 fouls per 90 this season with Arsenal and 0.85 fouls per 90 with Chelsea. But at odds of 1.4 against the likes of Bellingham, I really like the chance of him picking one up on Thursday night.
Despite being a midfielder, Bryan Cristante has attempted more tackles this season than any other player in Serie A by some distance. But the Roma player is well-known in Italian football for his fiery temper and was even sent off for squaring up to Adam Marusic in a post match melee against Lazio at the weekend.
It’s not surprising then that although Cristante also tops the table for tackles won in Serie A, he ranks as one of the highest players in the league for committing fouls. In fact, he averages 1.54 fouls per 90 this season.
He’ll be tasked with defending runs from both Bellingham – whose ability to draw fouls is mentioned above – and Foden whose youth and speed should force a slower Cristante into lunging tackles to stop the City player. Foden picks up 1.35 fouls per 90 this season.
Cristante racked up 4 fouls against England when they met in September, and has picked up at least two fouls in seven of his last nine Serie A games.
Most wouldn’t consider backing Saka to commit foul, but at a price of 1.53 there’s plenty to like here.
Italy rarely wins the possession battle, instead their quality comes from quickly rotating and transitioning from defense to attack and playing on the counter. This means that England will often find themselves holding a high line which should help England’s front trio pick up a foul or two when Italy regain possession.
Saka is Arsenal’s third highest tackler this season, but unsurprisingly for a right winger, it’s not his best strength and he’s currently averaging 1.16 fouls per game which is the second highest out of Arsenal’s starting lineup this season.
Saka has also committed at least one foul in his last seven England games and will find himself up against Dimarco and Raspadori who draw 1.34 and 0.78 fouls per 90 in Serie A.
This is by no means a banker, but I think the price of 1.53 justifies the choice when you consider that Saka will almost certainly be in the starting lineup and should get 70-80 minutes of play.
Veteran Italian defender and captain Bonucci will have his work cut out against a formidable England attacking lineup – especially with Harry Kane pushing for his record breaking 54th goal for England.
As mentioned above, England should win the possession battle with most of this game taking place in the Italian half, meaning it will be a busy afternoon for the defense.
Bonucci averages 1.30 fouls per 90 for Juventus this season and has picked up at least one foul in 13 of his 16 league games where he’s played over 45 minutes.
His direct opponent will be Kane who averages 1.44 fouls drawn per 90 this season and has been fouled at least once in his last 5 international matches. But Bonucci could find himself up against any number of players including Foden (1.35), Saka (1.69), or Bellingham (2.64).
Bonucci made two fouls when Italy last met England in September and I expect him to make at least another one in Napoli.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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