City stars joined England in facing Italy in the Nations League on Friday as they were relegated from the group after losing 1-0.
The starting XI included City favourites Walker and Foden. Stones was left out of the squad due to suspension, whilst Grealish was on the bench.
In a largely underwhelming performance from England, a frustration to many fans with the squad being packed full of talent. Southgate set up in typical defensive fashion.
Walker made up a back 5 alongside Dier and Maguire. With Saka on the left, and James on the right. By far the most comfortable defender on the ball and under pressure.
However, some misplaced passing due to lack of options as Italy pressed high up the pitch. The minor incident of stepping back from Raspadori to allow him to get his shot off, and consequently, scoring with a great finish.
The chance came down Italy’s left side, which should have been occupied by James. Perhaps Walker didn’t need to deal with the danger on his own. Nevertheless, not a great moment for the blue.
Foden was quiet for parts of the game early on, and the lack of creativity in midfield meant that there was no one to connect the back 7 to the front 3.
Foden saw the need to drop deeper to enable England to progress forward and for the most part had no one behind him to play the ball forward to.
On multiple occasions he’d gotten himself into a great position at the back post, and on all of those occasions, Harry Kane failed to feed him the ball, instead choosing to take shots from unlikely positions.
After the goal in the 68th minute, Southgate finally made some changes. Bringing off Walker and Saka and bringing on Shaw and Grealish.
And did Grealish light it up! Linking wonderfully with Foden, enabling England to get on the front foot and create some danger around the box.
England looked much more dangerous going forward once he came on, and Italy felt it, as they continued to target him with fouls.
It ended 1-0 and Southgate will now have much criticism to answer to. But credit where it’s due, Foden and Grealish were the most dangerous players on the pitch.
No doubt using what they’ve learnt from Pep Guardiola to try and make the difference in a team that lacked structure, creativity, and confidence on the ball.
Next up for England is Germany – though a game that will seem pointless to most. Grealish will miss out after picking up a yellow card for heckling the ref.
What City stars do you expect to see in the starting XI against Germany?