England boss Southgate braced for Italy test in Nations League clash

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September 22 (Reuters) – England manager Gareth Southgate believes Italy are as strong as they were when they won the European Championship last year, despite Roberto Mancini’s side missing out on qualifying for this year’s World Cup in Qatar.

Italy defeated England on penalties at Wembley Stadium and lifted the EURO trophy before the teams drew 0-0 in the Nations League in June. They meet again in the second leg in Milan on Friday.

“We’ve already played against Italy, we know how impressive the players of the Italian national team are. It’s up to us to react to the results of the last two meetings and improve,” Southgate told reporters on Thursday.

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When asked if the home team was weaker, Southgate added: “No, I wouldn’t say that. We follow Serie A closely, I was in Italy two weeks ago to watch the (Milan) derby and then Udinese. We know the Serie A players.”

Bottom of Group 3 in League A, England are on the verge of relegation to League B after clinching two points in their first four games, including two shock defeats by Hungary.

Southgate said the team preparing for the World Cup have been studying the results closely for the past few months.

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“We analyzed everything, every department. I think when you win… we had 22 games without a loss before this summer and you might not analyze wins as closely as you do losses,” he said.

“That’s probably not the right approach.”

England’s players have spoken out about the human rights issues surrounding the World Cup in Qatar, but Southgate said his side could only shed some light on the issues.

England captain Harry Kane and seven of his European counterparts will wear anti-discrimination bracelets during the tournament in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.

The Gulf nation has also faced fierce criticism from human rights groups for its treatment of migrant workers, who, along with other foreigners, make up the bulk of the country’s population.

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“In the end we are demanding change in a country that we respect and that has made progress but over which we have no control,” Southgate said.

Qatar’s government said its labor system was still a work in progress but denied a 2021 Amnesty report that thousands of migrant workers were still being exploited.

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Reporting by Dhruv Munjal in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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