Ross Barkley reveals glimmers of what he can do and Harry Kane is a perfect fit for Wayne Rooney up front

ANALYSIS: Five things we learnt from England's battling 1-1 draw with Italy in Turin

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Diamond shape proves to be anything but a gem

The problem with a diamond midfield is that it provides no width and England’s system was exposed, especially in the first half, by Italy’s width. Antonio Conte used a 3-5-2 system, the approach that won him three Serie A titles with Juventus here in Turin.

The two Italian wing-backs, Matteo Darmian and Alessandro Florenzi, found it far too easy to get round the back of England full-backs Nathaniel Clyne and Kieran Gibbs in the first half. England needed some late interventions by Phil Jagielka, and one poorly-timed run from Florenzi, to save themselves from conceding before they eventually did, to Graziano Pelle’s header. It was not the fault of Jordan Henderson or Fabian Delph, who were tucked in, rather than out wide. But it was an obvious tactical problem, for which England found no solution.

Italy show they can cope without pass master Pirlo

It says something about the different football cultures of England and Italy that the hosts managed to cope so ably without their two most accomplished passing midfielders. Andrea Pirlo, an unambiguous great of the game, was injured for this match, while Marco Verratti, his protégé, was on the bench. No worry for Conte, though. The Italy coach gave a debut to Mirko Valdifiori, Empoli’s classy, upright 28-year-old, and he was excellent, always showing for the ball and briskly moving it forward.

He was well assisted by Sampdoria’s Roberto Soriano, who only had two caps before last night, and, for the first half, England could not get near Italy in midfield. The players were different from the quarter-final in Euro 2012, but the pattern of play was not. Only when England introduced Michael Carrick did they find their footing.

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Roberto Soriano

 

Recharged Barkley reveals glimmers of what he can do

This has been a disappointing season for Ross Barkley for Everton, as the 21-year-old, famously and repeatedly hailed as a “football diamond” by Roberto Martinez last year has struggled for form in a side which has lost its way. Last night, though, he played with the enthusiasm of a young player trying to make up for almost a year of frustration.

Barkley was a natural at the tip of England’s diamond, and he had the enthusiasm, touch and vision to give England more impetus in the second half. Carrick, ultimately, proved more influential, but Barkley did provide a spark which England had lacked until then. Raheem Sterling remains the best in that role if England are to persist with their diamond midfield but Barkley, in Turin, showed glimmers of what he can still do.

 

Townsend transfers his club form back to the big stage

2015 could have been a difficult year for Andros Townsend. He had barely played for Mauricio Pochettino in the first half of this season, with Erik Lamela impressing on the right wing, and the new manager was starting to learn which players he could trust and which he could not. Since the famous 5-3 win over Chelsea on New Year’s Day, though, in which he scored, Townsend has shown some excellent form.

He is scoring and creating goals for Tottenham and forced his way into this England squad. Last night he was dangerous when he came on, scoring the powerful equaliser from 20 yards out. It was just as spectacular as his first England goal, against Montenegro in October 2013.

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Confident Kane is a perfect fit for Rooney up front

There have been problems in the past finding a natural strike partner for Wayne Rooney but there were signs in the second half last night that Harry Kane might be a good fit. They played up front together for almost all of the second half and Kane’s selfless movement and nose for goal caused problems, and on another day Rooney could well have scored two goals and won the match. Of course, this is only an option within the 4-4-2 diamond system and if England play the 4-3-3, as they did on Friday night, the likeliest side has Danny Welbeck and Raheem Sterling either side of Rooney. But they have two effective ways of playing now.

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