England and Italy played out a goalless draw in front of empty stands as Gareth Southgate experimented against the inexperienced Azzurri in the Nations League.
Following the shock 1-0 loss in Hungary and Tuesday’s hard-fought 1-1 draw in Germany, the Three Lions continued their World Cup preparations against Roberto Mancini’s European champions at Molineux.
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The vibe around this Nations League encounter could not have been more different to the Euro 2020 final at Wembley 11 months ago, when crowd trouble compounded England’s agonising penalty shoot-out loss to Italy. That fan disorder meant Saturday’s reunion had to be played behind closed doors except for 2,000 school children in attendance.
There were just seven starters from the Euro 2020 final line-ups as Southgate tested his peripheral players before a winter World Cup from which Italy will be absent, allowing Mancini to fully focus on their rebuild.
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Martin Odegaard warns Arsenal face ‘difficult game’ against Bodo/Glimt
Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard has warned the Gunners not to underestimate Bodo/Glimt in the Europa League on Thursday night, insisting Norwegian club football has improved in recent years following a drop in its level before that.
Bodo/Glimt are reigning Eliteserien champions and have made a strong start to the Europa League group stage, taking four points from games against PSV Eindhoven and Zurich thus far.
“They have always been a small club and they have often been between the first and second division in the Norwegian league. Sometimes up, sometimes down, but over the past few years they have been really strong,” Odegaard said in notes for Arsenal’s matchday programme, via Arsenal.com.
“They’ve made some great signings and they have an excellent coach too in Kjetil Knutsen. They have given him the time to work there and they have a very solid team now. The way they play the game, everyone knows the system and it has been working really well for them.”
Norway had strong representation in the Champions League with Rosenborg in the 1990s and early 2000s, going as far as the quarter-finals in 1997. Brann and Valerenga also went deep in the now defunct Cup Winners’ Cup around the same time.
But Norwegian clubs were noticeably absent from the knockout stages of European competitions until Model’s Europa League runs in 2015/16 and 2020/21, while Bodo/Glimt got to the quarter-finals of last season’s Europa Conference League, losing to eventual champions Roma.
Odegaard, who burst onto the scene in Norway with Stromsgodset aged just 15 in 2014, discussed the fall and rise of Norwegian clubs in Europe.
“It has been a while since I was playing in Norwegian football, but I follow it still and I think over the last few years it has improved again,” the 23-year-old explained.
“There was a drop in the quality for a few years, but now I feel like it’s getting better again. It’s more competitive now, and there are a few teams up there that can fight to win the title.
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“There are some good young players coming through and the clubs have a bit more money now from playing European football and selling players on.
“Obviously there isn’t quite the same quality as we have here in the Premier League, but there’s no doubt that Norwegian football is stronger than it was and we will face a difficult game tonight.”
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Why Harvey Elliott is refusing to rely on help from Liverpool’s senior players
Liverpool youngster Harvey Elliott has revealed he doesn’t want to rely on help from his older Reds team-mates, insisting he is ‘not a kid anymore’.
With Thiago, 31, and Jordan Henderson, 32, both suffering with injuries this season, teenage Elliott has started the majority of his club’s matches so far this season.
At the age of 19, he’s comfortably the youngest first-team regular in what is just his second season as a permanent member of the senior Liverpool squad following a loan at Blackburn in 2020/21.
But while Elliott is happy to take some advice from his more experienced teammates, he’s keen not to rely on their help too much, saying he should be old enough by now to solve his own problems.
“They put their arm around me and give me a helping hand if needed but at the same time I need to solve my own problems and I need to deal with it myself like a man,” he said.
“I am not a kid anymore, so I need to have that authority and make sure I stamp things out.
“If there are things I need to improve on then I need to improve on them and for me it’s just about making sure I do what I can do to get in the team and cement my spot.
“Everyone needs to be ready, fully confident, motivated and ready to go out and play because, at the end of the day, we’re going to need everyone. I feel fully confident and motivated.”
With Henderson and Thiago now fit again, Elliott, who was on the bench against Rangers in the Champions League this week, will have to keep performing well when he is given chances if he wants to regularly be in the starting XI going forward.
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