It was a crunch match that lived up to its billing with Italy edging out England 3-2 on penalties. Luke Shaw had managed to put England ahead in the second minute after hitting home Kieran Trippier’s cross on the volley but Leonardo Bonucci equalized for the Italians with a scrappy tap in following a corner.


But how did Italy manage to bring down the English wall. Let’s get down to the tactics

Italy in Possession

Italy lined up in their usual 4-3-3 formation.

Italy Line Up

Italy liked to build play from the back during goal kicks. There CB’s split and the keeper would have passing options. This drew the England front three to press. However, the England front three were more concerned with cutting the passing lanes to both Jorginho and Verrati who are very good dictators of play. The English midfield were forced high too to cover the space left by the attackers and this created space between the lines that Insigne/Immobile liked to exploit

Italy CB’s split wide giving the keeper passing options while attracting the England press
Immobile occupies the space between the lines left by the England midfield

During build up, Di Lorenzo (RB) tucked in while Emerson(LB) moved further up . Barella and Insigne moved in to the right and left half spaces respectively while Emerson and Chiesa stayed wide creating a 3-2-5 shape. Englad countered this pretty well with their 5 man backline creating a 5-2-3 shape. Rice and Phillips were able to nullify the impact of Jorginho and Verratti. This sometimes forced Italy to go long, with Bonucci often looking for long passes towards the left channel

England’s defense was mostly compact which means it was hard for Italy to break the lines. This forced Verrati and Jorginho to drop deeper and try and create more space and to progress play. This movement often attracted an England press mainly through Rice and Phillips and this left space in behind that was occupied by mostly Barella and Insigne who were in the half spaces. Walker, who is fast enough sometimes tried to follow Insigne deep into midfield but Maguire did not do the same to Barella, meaning Barella had more time on the ball.

Jorginho drops to the right side attracting an England press
Verratti drops deep to the left side which attracts Phillips

In the second half, Italy pushed further up with the centre backs receiving the ball inside England’s half as England stayed back to protect their lead. This overload is what led to Italy’s corner for the goal.

Chiellini pushing high to the edge of the box which creates a side overload

England in Possession

England lined up in a 3-4-3 formation with Trippier and shaw as wingbacks.

England line up

From goalkicks, Walker and Maguire split while Stones pushed further in to the midfield. Pickford is not comfortable onthe ball and so most times he chose to go long to find Kane. Italy looked to defend in a 4-3-3 formation with their front three pressing the England defense. Jorginho looked to screen the defense meaning he was not involved involved in the press. This meant the England wingbacks were not pressed and that’s what led to the goal. The two wingbacks pushed higher up creating a 5 man attack against Italy’s 4-man defense. Kane who is more comfortable on the ball often looked to drop deeper in to midfield, creating a midfield overload and looking for a defense splitting pass for either Sterling or Mount who were ahead of him. This movement is what led to the goal. Kane’s switched to the ball to Trippier who was unmarked, Trippier then crossed the ball to Shaw who was also unmarked, and Shaw scored.

Kane dropping deep, creating a midfield overload before switching to the right

The 3-4-3 system also gave England an advantage with the wingbacks creating side overloads against Italy’s narrow midfield. This created 2v1’s against the fullbacks.

Mount and Shaw create a 2v1 against Di Lorenzo which means Mount can run in behind him

England switched to a 4-3-3 after substitutions, Saka came on for Trippier and Henderson came on for Rice. This however, meant Phillips was more isolated as a single pivot as Mount and Henderson both pushed further up the pitch. The switch gifted Italy more control of the midfield and in the end they had more possession and completed more passes than England.

In the end, Italy were tactically more superior and deserved the win. England’s early goal meant they sat back for far too long and gave Italy more time on the ball which the Italians used to hurt them.


Congratulazioni Italia



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