Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions welcome Australia to Wembley for a friendly on Friday night.
Club football is on pause with the latest international break now well underway, with players travelling to all corners of the globe to represent their respective nations. Gareth Southgate’s England will play twice, firstly against Australia on Friday night before taking on Italy in a EURO 2024 Qualifier under the arch on Tuesday. The Three Lions will face David Arnold’s side in their first match of the international break on Friday evening.
Whilst there are no points on offer against Australia, with the match being a friendly, the game is still important given that confidence can be raised with a win. The match also provides an opportunity for the team to forge closer bonds and prepare for the resumption of the EURO Qualifiers.
Ahead of the match against the Socceroos, England’s most recent game saw them take on Scotland in a special friendly to mark the 150th anniversary of that iconic international fixture at Hampden Park. In the end, Southgate’s side won the game 3 – 1 thanks to goals from Phil Foden (32’), Jude Bellingham (35’) and record England goal scorer Harry Kane (81’). Steve Clarke’s Scotland scored through a Harry Maguire own goal (67’).
As for David Arnold’s Australia, they met Mexico in their most recent international fixture on 10th September. It was a competitive friendly match that ended as a 2 – 2 draw at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. A goal from Harry Souttar (16’) and a converted penalty kick from Hibernian’s Martin Boyle (63’) gave Australia a two-goal advantage before Fulham’s Raul Jimenez halved the deficit with a penalty of his own (69’) before Cesar Huerta found the back of the net to equalise late on for Mexico (83’).
These two nations last met in another friendly back on Friday, 27th May 2016, at Sunderland’s Stadium Of Light. On this occasion, then-manager Roy Hodgson led his Three Lions side to a 2 – 1 victory in front of a 46,595-strong crowd, thanks to goals from Marcus Rashford (3’) and Wayne Rooney (55’). The Socceroos scored through an Eric Dier own goal late on in the second half (75’).
Australia’s First Team Manager at the time was current Tottenham Hotspur Head Coach Ange Postecoglou.
Overall, England and Australia have met on 7 occasions, including their first-ever meeting on 31st May 1980, where the Three Lions won 2 – 1. England does have a superior record in this fixture, with 4 victories as opposed to Australia’s 1. There have been 2 draws between them as of the time of writing.
Moving on to team news, Bukayo Saka had to withdraw from the England squad due to injury earlier in the week. Also, Gareth Southgate is expected to name a rotated starting eleven, and the likes of West Ham United forward Jarrod Bowen, Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins and AC Milan’s Fikayo Tomori could all get minutes.
As for Australia, they will be missing Middlesbrough’s Riley McGree due to injury. Aiden O’Neill, who plays his club football for Belgian side Standard Liege, will replace the midfielder. There is still some good news for the Socceroos in the midfield department, though, as former Burton Albion and Hull City player Jackson Irvine is set to return following a recovery from an injury of his own.
Ahead of the game, England Head Coach Gareth Southgate has said (via The Evening Standard): “We want to see as many of the squad as we can this week, there is a reality with England that you have to take your chances when they come.
“As a former player, you knew the moments when you felt, ‘OK, I have got to deliver tonight. I am not going to get six or ten chances.’ It is not how it works. Our job is to try and alleviate pressure from the team, but you have to deliver with England, and we have to win matches, so we have got to be good at handling and coping with pressure. These boys are more than capable.”
Following this match, England will welcome Italy to Wembley in their latest EURO 2024 Qualifier on Tuesday.
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