3 things Southgate got badly wrong as England are relegated with defeat to Italy

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England have been relegated from the Nations League League A after they lost 1-0 to Italy in a poor encounter.

Gareth Southgate's side limped through the 90 minutes in a display that will have many fans worried for the immediate World Cup – which kicks off in just over 50 days. Giacomo Raspadori netted the only goal of the drab encounter to send England to League B.

The Three Lions could now find themselves in a Nations League group with the likes of Kazakhstan and Finland. And following one of England's poorest displays in recent memory, Daily Star Sport is looking at what Southgate got wrong.

Starting Bukayo Saka at LWB

Bukayo Saka is one of England's most promising talents, and Southgate opted to start the Arsenal starlet at LWB against Italy.

It was the first time at club or international level that Saka has found himself playing that role, and the youngster looked like a man thrown in at the deep end at times. Italy fashioned their best chance after the Arsenal star was caught in position high up the field.

Saka predominately plays on the right for Arsenal, but he was picked ahead of Ben Chilwell, who has played LWB for the past two seasons.

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Failing to adjust the system without Kalvin Phillips

Kalvin Phillips was arguably the Three Lions' most valuable player during Euro 2020 – and given his current injury woes, England fans will be sweating ahead of the World Cup.

The Yorkshire Pirlo was often deployed in a double pivot alongside West Ham's Declan Rice, with the pair striking up a great relationship. It was this partnership in the middle that allowed England to dominate the midfield, and, as a result, games.

Jude Bellingham was handed the starting role, but playing deeper didn't suit the Borussia Dortmund man – who only started to look himself going forwards.

Not starting Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham

While England have to retain some sort of tactical stability from game to game, Southgate's decision to overlook the Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham is baffling.

Both Tomori and Abraham have excelled in Serie A over the past couple of seasons. With Tomori winning the scudetto with AC Milan in the very stadium the clash was taking place on Friday evening.

Abraham also has a track record of causing havoc against Italian defenders after running riot for Roma.

Opting for Nick Pope

Jordan Pickford has always been a big game player for England: from that performance against Colombia to keeping England alive in the Euro 2020 shootout.

However, there is only so long that Southgate can overlook Pickford's club form, which has been erratic over the past couple of seasons. Nick Pope, on the other hand, has been electric for Newcastle this season, and he continued that for England.

There wasn't much he could do about Raspadori's strike, who curled the ball past the shot-stopper to consign England to relegation.


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