Italy to face England and Germany in Nations League

By Sports Desk December 16, 2021

Italy were drawn to face England and Germany in a tough 2022-23 Nations League group on Thursday.

The Azzurri beat England in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley in July and the two sides will do battle again in Group A3 of the Nations League.

They will also face Germany and Hungary home and away in matches that will take place next June and September 2022.

Holders France are in Group A1 along with Croatia, Denmark and Austria.

World champions France were crowned champions when they came from behind to beat Spain 2-1 at San Siro in October.

Spain were drawn in Group A2 and will come up against Portugal, Czech Republic and Switzerland in the third edition of the UEFA competition.

Belgium, who squandered a two-goal lead to lose against France at the semi-final stage of the Nations League two months ago, will take on Netherlands, Poland and Wales.

Scotland, Republic of Ireland, Ukraine and Armenia are in League B Group 1.

Russia, Iceland, Israel and Albania will do battle in Group B2, with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland and Romania in Group B3.

Group B4 will see Serbia, Sweden, Norway and Slovenia lock horns as they strive to secure promotion.

Four of the six matchdays will be in June due to the scheduling of the World Cup in Qatar later in 2022.

The four group winners in League A will advance to the Nations League Finals in June 2023. The group winners in the other three leagues will all be promoted for the 2024-25 edition.

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    Trinidad and Tobago's senior Soca Warriors will up the ante on preparations for their upcoming Copa America qualifying assignment, when they tackle Jamaica's Reggae Boyz in a two-match friendly series on Friday and Sunday.

    The games which are scheduled to be played at the Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella, and the Larry Gomes Stadium in Arima, are both set to be contested at 4:00pm Trinidad and Tobago time. Both games will assist Angus Eve and his Soca Warriors in gauging their readiness for the upcoming Copa America qualifying encounter against Canada, scheduled for March 23.

    They will also assist Heimir Hallgrimsson, and his Reggae Boyz, who are also in preparation mode for their Concacaf Nations League (CNL) semi-final engagement with United States set for March 21.

    Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica met three times last year, twice in friendly matches in Montego Bay, and those were followed by their Concacaf Gold Cup clash in June. The Soca Warriors won the second friendly 1-0, after the first match ended goalless.

    However, Jamaica came away comfortable 4-1 winners in the Gold Cup group stage meeting.

    Jamaica were also responsible for sending Canada into the Copa America playoff match, by virtue of the away goal rule, after they rallied to secure a 4-4 aggregate scoreline in the Concacaf Nations League quarterfinal in November.

    Like Canada, Eve's Soca Warriors also missed out on an automatic place at the 2024 Copa America, as they lost 2-4 on aggregate to United States, despite winning the second leg 2-1 in Port of Spain.

    Since then, Eve has backed his team to remain competitive and, by extension, build on that momentum from the win against United States.

    “Like the US team, the Canada team is built up the same, (with) a lot of European-based players. Some of the players (are) playing in the MLS (Major League Soccer), some playing back home, but most of the players are playing in Europe and they are playing with good teams,” Eve assessed in a recent interview.

    “But we think we can go in there; we think we can compete with anyone right now and we want to show that. We want to show that confidence that we could go out on the park and compete with anyone,” he added.

    Eve believes that with the right application, the team will compete strongly against Canada, as well as in the Concacaf World Cup qualifiers, which promises to be both demanding and exciting.

    “We just have to be tactically aware. A coach can only give instructions. When the players go out there, they have to have the mindset to play the position, to play the role that the coaches give them to the best of their ability because, a coach could never tell a player what to do for every second of every minute of a game,” he reasoned.

    "We will use those games (against Jamaica) as the final two warm-up games going into the CONMEBOL playoff match and when that happens, then we will pick that final squad,” Eve declared.

    The winner of the playoff between Trinidad and Tobago and Canada, will join Jamaica, United States, Mexico, Panama and either Costa Rica or Honduras, as the Concacaf representatives at the prestigious Copa America, which will be hosted in the United States from June 20 to July 14.

  • Sarina Wiegman hails ‘many positives’ of England’s double-header in Spain Sarina Wiegman hails ‘many positives’ of England’s double-header in Spain

    Sarina Wiegman said England’s trip had yielded “many positives” after the team concluded their double-header of friendlies in southern Spain with a 5-1 win over Italy.

    Four days on from the 7-2 defeat of Austria at the Estadio Nuevo Mirador in Algeciras, another thumping victory for the Lionesses at the same venue began with Lotte Wubben-Moy heading her first international goal in the opening minute.

    Lauren Hemp extended the lead with a brace, the second via an excellent header, and after Michela Cambiaghi pulled a goal back for Italy in stoppage time at the end of the first half, substitutes Ella Toone and Rachel Daly completed the rout in the second half.

    Boss Wiegman told ITV: “I think the whole camp, a lot of things pleased me.

    “I think we had the opportunity to play many players…see what the level was, that was exactly what we wanted, see players in some positions and the connections between players, and then the competition.

    “And when you have then such good wins as we had tonight and last Friday, that’s really nice too of course.”

    Next up for England are the opening Euro 2025 qualifiers in April as Wiegman’s side begin the journey of defending the title they won on home soil in 2022.

    When asked if the camp had given her the answers she needed ahead of the matches in April, Wiegman said: “You never know, because things in football can change so quickly, but it gave us many answers on questions we had at this moment.

    “We could take this opportunity to see so many players and play two very good games, train also, see the under-23s (who joined the senior team on the trip). So just very many positives about this week.”

    Those positives for Wiegman – who saw Leah Williamson withdraw from her original squad due to injury and Fran Kirby do so between the two matches – included debuts being made by 20-year-old Grace Clinton, a goalscorer in the Austria match, and Millie Turner introduced as a substitute against Italy.

    On Arsenal defender Wubben-Moy, after her 12th senior appearance for the team, Wiegman said: “I think she’s definitely taken a step forward because she’s developing a lot and very good.

    “That’s what we see weekly at Arsenal and that’s what she shows here too. What you can (also) see is the competition in the position is just really high.”

    Wubben-Moy heading in from an Alex Greenwood delivery was an early example as England – on a night that saw them also make some notable errors at the back – demonstrated the problems they can cause from corners.

    Wiegman added: “We are always working on it. We had a little more emphasis on it, we had a little more time this week.

    “So it’s really good to see that it had so much effect and hopefully we can do that again in the following games.”

  • Lauren Hemp’s brace helps England to another thumping friendly win Lauren Hemp’s brace helps England to another thumping friendly win

    Lauren Hemp scored a first-half brace as England beat Italy 5-1 in the second of their double-header of friendlies in southern Spain.

    Four days on from defeating Austria 7-2 at the Estadio Nuevo Mirador in Algeciras, the Lionesses started the ball rolling for another thumping win with Lotte Wubben-Moy heading home her first international goal in the opening few seconds.

    Hemp then added two efforts, the second an excellent header, to put England three goals up just past the half-hour mark.

    Michela Cambiaghi pulled a goal back for the visitors in first-half stoppage time before substitutes Ella Toone and Rachel Daly completed the rout after the break.

    After this positive start to the calendar year, next up for England are the opening Euro 2025 qualifiers in April as Sarina Wiegman’s side begin the journey of defending the title they won on home soil in 2022.

    Having made five changes to her starting line-up from the Austria game, Wiegman saw England begin in similar fashion, again taking the lead in the opening moments.

    This time it came even quicker than Alessia Russo’s third-minute finish against the Austrians, with Wubben-Moy heading in from Alex Greenwood’s corner in the first minute to break her England scoring duck.

    Wubben-Moy saw a further header turned around a post by Laura Giuliani soon after before the Lionesses’ lead was extended in somewhat fortuitous circumstances following another Greenwood corner.

    The Manchester City defender’s 21st-minute delivery was met by a Giuliani punch and Aurora Galli attempted to clear the ball, only to see it hit Hemp and go in.

    After Grace Clinton’s strike was caught by Giuliani and Niamh Charles breathed a sigh of relief when her attempted pass to Mary Earps was intercepted by Cambiaghi but the ball was run out of play, Hemp made it 3-0 in the 34th minute with a fine header as she connected with Georgia Stanway’s cross.

    Wiegman’s side pushed for more with Greenwood curling a free-kick wide and Giuliani denying Chloe Kelly and Russo before first-half stoppage time saw Earps called into action to block a Sofia Cantore shot, and then beaten as England lost possession near their own box and Cambiaghi slotted in.

    Lauren James was one of two players brought on at the interval and her curling effort from just outside the box was well saved by Giuliani in the 64th minute.

    Five minutes later James latched on to a long ball forward from Greenwood, produced a cross from the left to Toone – just off the bench herself – and the Manchester United player finished with a rising side-footed effort.

    There was a let-off for Earps when her kick went straight to Cantore and she passed to Cambiaghi, who could only shoot wide from a good position.

    England then punished an Italian error in the 79th minute as the recently-introduced Daly pounced on an underhit backpass, took the ball past Giuliani and stroked it in for 5-1.

    James almost added a sixth goal in the closing stages, with Giuliani doing well to save her shot.

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