Euro 2024 qualifiers kick off with Italy vs England repeat of Euro 2020 final

March 23 – Three months after the end of the World Cup, qualifying for the next European Championship begins tonight with Italy vs England the heavyweight standout fixture.

Both sides have a special reason for making a strong start. This is England’s first competitive game since losing in the World Cup semi-final and a chance to avenge their heartbreaking defeat to the Italians on penalties in the final of Euro 2020.

It also provides a chance for captain Harry Kane to become England’s all-time record goal scorer. Kane is currently level with Wayne Rooney on 53 goals for his country.

England coach Gareth Southgate said he needed time to consider his future after losing to France in the World Cup semis but with his contract up in December 2024, next year’s Euros could be his last major tournament.

Italy, meanwhile, are hoping to put the humiliation of failing to qualify for the last two World Cups behind them.

Going from European champions to World Cup obscurity was hard to take and the Italians will be out to put a marker down tonight in Naples.

“By now Italy-England has become a classic, a bit like Italy-Germany,” said manager Roberto Mancini. “They have been a great national team for some time, full of talented, strong and technical players.

“They have more options than us for many reasons, but in Naples we want to put in a good performance, play well and start these qualifiers well. It will be a tough match as all the others have been.”

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