It may appear to be a quiet couple of weeks on the football front for domestic teams, but for Team of Champions Promointernational managers such as England’s Gareth Southgate or Germany’s Joachim Low, this is the final chance during the season to get players together for a couple of international friendly fixtures, ahead of this summer’s World Cup Finals in Russia.

While the German preparations will no doubt be meticulously on track, Gareth Southgate’s preparations have been hampered by injury to some key stars, most notably Tottenham striker Harry Kane and Crystal Palace loanee Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Others, such as Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Michael Keane and Fraser Forster have either lost form or are not starting regularly for their club, putting their places in jeopardy somewhat.

England have just four friendly matches before their opening World Cup game on the 18th June when they will face Tunisia in Volgograd. They face the Netherlands in Amsterdam on Friday night before returning to Wembley to take on Italy on Tuesday.

Following those two games, Southgate will not then see his players until the 2nd June when they will take on Nigeria at Wembley, before travelling up to Leeds to face Costa Rica in a rare match outside of the capital, before they head off to Russia. However, Southgate needs to name his squad for the World Cup by the 14th May, although he can bring in alternative players up to 24-hours before England’s opening match if a player gets injured.

So essentially, these two games this week are Southgate’s last chance to run the rule over some prospective players to go to Russia before he names his squad and as such, this places greater importance on both these forthcoming games than a standard friendly match.

Let’s now preview both these games as well as looking at some interesting betting opportunities with Coral Sport for each of the matches England face over the next few days. Let’s begin by looking at the squad Gareth Southgate has selected for both matches this week.

England Squad to face the Netherland and Italy (27 players selected)

  • Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (West Ham), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Jack Butland (Stoke), Nick Pope (Burnley)
  • Defenders: Kyle Walker (Man City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham), Ryan Bertrand* (Southampton), Danny Rose (Tottenham), John Stones (Man City), James Tarkowski (Burnley), Alfie Mawson (Swansea), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Harry Maguire (Leicester)
  • Midfielders: Eric Dier (Tottenham), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jake Livermore (WBA), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Liverpool), Dele Alli (Tottenham), Raheem Sterling (Man City), Ashley Young (Man Utd), Jesse Lingaard (Man Utd), Lewis Cook (Bournemouth)
  • Attackers: Danny Welbeck (Arsenal), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Marcus Rashford (Man Utd)

*Ryan Bertrand has since withdrawn from the squad with an injury.

Friday 23rd March

Netherlands v England

  • Venue – Johan Cruyff Arena
  • Head to Head Performance – England Won – 9, Drawn – 10, Netherlands Won – 13
  • Last Result – England 1-2 Netherlands (March 2016)
  • England’s Last Win in the Fixture – England 4-1 Netherlands (June 1996)
  • Key Fact: England have won just 2 of their last 16 games with the Netherlands, drawing 8 and losing 6

Netherlands Squad

  • Goalkeepers: Jasper Cillessen (Barcelona), Jeroen Zoet (PSV), Marco Bizot (AZ)
  • Defenders: Stefan de Vrij (Lazio), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Kenny Tete (Lyon), Patrick Van Aanholt (Crystal Palace), Nathan Ake (Bournemouth), Mattijs De Ligt (Ajax), Tim Fosu Mensah (Crystal Palace), Hans Hateboer (Atalanta)
  • Midfielders: Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool), Kevin Strootman (Roma), Tonny Vilhena (Feyenoord), Davy Propper (Brighton), Marten de Roon (Atalanta), Donny van de Beek (Ajax), Guus Til (AZ)
  • Attackers: Ryan Babel (Besiktas), Memphis Depay (Lyon), Quincy Promes (Spartak Moscow), Bas Dost (Sporting), Steven Berghuis (Feyenoord), Justin Kluivert (Ajax), Wout Weghorst (AZ)


This is not the strongest Dutch team England will have faced in recent times. One or two star names apart in defence and midfield, the situation in attack and with the goalkeeper for the Netherlands is not ideal, with CIllessen sat on the bench for Barcelona most weeks and no recognisable goalscoring striker available for the Dutch.

With a 27-man squad, Southgate is clearly going to be looking at some options for this fixture and I think at least one of Alfie Mawson or James Tarkowski will be given a chance at some point in this game. England’s defence is hardly rock solid anyway and that well could lead to the Netherlands exploting a lack of understanding.

Harry Kane’s absence is a big blow for England and it’s likely Jamie Vardy will run the line, but I expect Marcus Rashford to play a key role for England either as a wide man or as Vardy’s support and I think the Manchester United man is in the mood to get a goal for his country on the night in a game that I see being a 1-1 draw.

Our Top Bets for Netherland v England

  • Netherland v England – Draw – 2/1 with Coral Sport
  • First GoalscorerQuincy Promes – 6/1 with Coral Sport
  • England Anytime Goalscorer – Marcus Rashford – 9/4 with Coral Sport

Tuesday 27th March

England v Italy

  • Venue – Wembley Stadium
  • Head to Head Performance – England Won – 8, Drawn – 7, Italy Won – 11
  • Last Result – Italy 1-1 England (March 2015)
  • England’s Last Win in the Fixture – England 2-1 Italy (August 2012)
  • Key Fact – England have beaten Italy just 4 times since 1973, Italy have beaten England 10 times in that period of time with three matches drawn.

Italy Squad

  • Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Gianlugi Donnarumma (Milan), Mattia Perin (Genoa)
  • Defenders: Leonardo Bonucci (Milan), Matteo Darmian (Man Utd), Mattia De Sciglio (Juventus), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Angelo Ogbonna (West Ham), Davide Zappacosta (Chelsea), Leonardo Spinazzola (Atalanta), Daniele Rugani (Juventus), Gian Marco Ferrari (Sampdoria)
  • Midfielders: Marco Parolo (Lazio), Marco Verrati (Paris St Germain), Giacomo Bonaventura (Milan), Roberto Gagliardini (Inter), Jorginho (Napoli), Bryan Cristante (Atalanta), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma)
  • Attackers: Antonio Candreva (Inter), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Andrea Belotti (Torino), Simone Verdi (Bologna), Federico Chiesa (Fiorentina), Patrick Cutrone (Milan)


Gianluigi Buffon makes a return to the Italian squad to commemorate the very sad death of international defender Davide Astori a few weeks ago for Italy in what is likely to be an emotional game for them at Wembley.

Luigi Di Biagio’s men didn’t reach Russia, losing a playoff to Sweden, but they’ll want to prove their quality against a side that they have enjoyed great success against in more recent times, especially in major tournaments and competitions. They have some talented players to pick from including the in form Ciro Immobile and the highly regarded Lorenzo Insigne.

I would expect Southgate to perhaps rotate a number of players from the Netherlands game for this one and as such, I think that will lead to a more fractured display and I think that plays into Italy’s hands. England’s record against Italy is poor anyway and I can see it only getting poorer following Tuesday night.

Our Top Bets for England v Italy

  • England v Italy – Italy Win – 23/10 with Coral Sport
  • Both Teams to Score – Yes – 20/23 with Coral Sport
  • Half Time/Full Time – Draw/Italy – 6/1 with Coral Sport