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Italy v Hungary
Hungary made a fantastic start to their Nations League campaign with a 1-0 win at home to a below-par England, having also taken a point at Wembley in October during the World Cup qualifiers. They’re currently enjoying a run of four victories from five matches, including one away in Poland, though aside from this they’ve beaten San Marino and Northern Ireland and lost to Serbia.
Italy may have been crowned European champions, but since the knockout rounds of that tournament, they’ve only actually won inside 90 minutes in four of 15 fixtures (W4-D8-L3). This spell has seen them draw games with the likes of Austria, Bulgaria and Northern Ireland, as well as losing to North Macedonia, so there’s certainly plenty of room for improvement.
The Azzurri’s biggest problem has been a lack of a reliable goalscorer, scoring more than once across 90 minutes in just four of their past 16 outings, as 10 of these saw fewer than three goals before extra time. In fact, they’ve failed to register on the scoreboard in three of their last five appearances, including blanks against Northern Ireland and North Macedonia.
Italy haven’t been quite so secure at the back either, mustering just three clean sheets across their past 15 games, including just one from the last eight. Even that came in their goalless stalemate with Northern Ireland, who always struggle to score goals and have failed to net in four of their last five.
With that in mind, Hungary appear in a good position to exploit these flaws. Aside from those recent results against England, they did also take a point from both France and Germany in the Euro 200 group stages, so are certainly capable of giving the Italians a hard time.
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Germany v England
Germany were looking a little lost by the end of Joachim Low’s tenure, but they’ve been in impressive form since Euro 2020 under Hansi Flick, winning eight on the trot before respectable draws with the Netherlands and Italy. Although the opposition hasn’t been of the highest standard, you can only beat the teams in front of you and they racked up a minimum of four goals on five occasions, while they were a little unfortunate not to take a win over Italy last time out.
England appeared to suffer from heavy legs as they endured a surprise loss to Hungary, via a contentious penalty, which must be a concern ahead of this fixture. However, it should be noted that it was a first defeat in 23 appearances since a clash with Belgium back in 2020 (W17-D5-L1), a spell which saw them keep 16 clean sheets despite central defence being a weak point in Gareth Southgate’s squad.
Against elite outfits Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Spain, the Three Lions hold a W3-D2-L1 record since October 2018 over 90 minutes, though there was only a single clean sheet across these outings. Although Germany have picked up their form, they’ve still won just twice in their last 17 clashes with elite sides Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal or Spain (W2-D8-L7).
Die Mannschaft’s last two outings, draws with the Netherlands and Italy, would suggest another tight encounter should be expected, especially with four of the last five head-to-heads featuring fewer than three goals.
GERMANY AND ENGLAND TO DRAW
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