England U21s vs Italy U21s: Gareth Southgate says England must be 'streetwise'

England face Italy in the quarter-final

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The Independent Football

Gareth Southgate has warned his England Under-21s that they must be “streetwise” when they face Italy this evening for a place in the semi-finals of the European championships.

England must beat Italy to be assured of a semi-final place, although a draw will be enough if Sweden do not beat Portugal in the other group game. Last night, Germany drew with the Czech Republic which meant that Denmark, who beat Serbia 2-0, won group A. Germany will travel to Olomouc, where England have their current base, to face the winners of group B in Saturday’s semi.

Southgate said that his young players, five of whom were in the Under-21s team that lost to Italy at the 2013 European championships in Israel, must be prepared to manage the game as astutely as the Italians have in the past. An England Under-21s side has not beaten its Italian counterparts since October 1997.

Southgate said that five of his players gained valuable experience at the Under-20s Toulon tournament last summer. He said: “One of the things from Toulon, which was a brilliant experience, was that they had to learn how to be streetwise and savvy. It is something that is a bit of an unspoken in our country with young players.

“When do you start? How far do you go? But if we think we can win by playing different rules to everyone else, we are probably going to inhibit ourselves. We have got to be wise to our position and the tactics they might use. It is the same for us. Managing ourselves, managing the clock. Game management and game understanding is a big part of it now.”