The domestic campaigns around Europe have ground to a halt once again, as international football takes centre stage across the continent. We are getting down to the business end of the respective Euro 2024 qualifiers, and several teams have the opportunity to book their place in Germany next summer during this break — including Scotland, France and Portugal.
England are another side charging toward Euro 2024, and a victory over Italy at Wembley on October 17 would set the Three Lions well on their way to Germany, as they already lead their group by a comfortable margin. Gareth Southgate is to step aside following the tournament, so it’s a final chance for him to sign off with a major victory after coming so close at Euro 2020.
Let’s focus on just one game at a time though. This will be the fourth meeting between the Three Lions and Gli Azzurri since the infamous Euro 2020 final at Wembley, and results have been mixed with a win for both sides and a 0-0 draw. But Southgate’s side are the heavy favourites to win this encounter in the England v Italy odds.
It could still be a close match, however, so let’s take a look at four players — two from each side — who could make a big difference at Wembley.
Jude Bellingham – England
People laughed when Birmingham City retired Jude Bellingham’s No.22 shirt following his move to Borussia Dortmund in 2020. However, they clearly knew just how special a player he was going to be, and the 20-year-old has already left everyone who mocked that decision with egg on their face.
Bellingham’s immense talent landed him a move to Real Madrid this summer and he has already taken his game up a notch in Spain, scoring 10 goals and providing three assists in 10 games for Los Blancos. On that form, he could be very hard to contain in this fixture.
Nicolo Barella – Italy
One of the best players of the tournament at Euro 2020, Nicolo Barella made a name for himself when playing a key role in Gli Azzurri’s second European Championship success and the Inter Milan man is now considered one of the best midfielders in the world.
It will likely be the 26-year-old who Spalletti will task with man-marking Jude Bellingham, and that will make for a fantastic battle in the centre of the park. But while Barella is a fantastic last line of defense in front for Italy, he can also be a danger going forward and can provide crucial goals and assists.
Harry Kane – England
When talking about players who are going to make a difference in an England game, of course, Harry Kane is going to feature. The 30-year-old surpassed Wayne Rooney to become the Three Lions’ all-time top scorer when he netted from the penalty spot in the 2-1 win over Italy earlier this year.
Kane has been in as good form for club and country as ever, notching five goals and two assists in this qualifying campaign whilst scoring nine goals and providing five assists in 10 games across all competitions for Bayern Munich.
Domenico Berardi – Italy
A player who perhaps has a bit of a point to prove to new Italy manager Luciano Spalletti, Domenico Berardi was left out of Gli Azzurri’s side for their last two Euro 2024 qualifiers against North Macedonia and Ukraine, despite pleads for the experienced winger to be included.
He’s back in the fold now though, and on paper, the 29-year-old has the best form out of all of Spalletti’s attacking options. Berardi has scored five goals and provided one assist for Sassuolo in six Serie A appearances this season, and will be hoping for some good performances for Italy to ensure he keeps his place in the squad.