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England beat Italy 2-1 at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in Naples Thursday as Gareth Southgate's side scored twice in the first half with Declan Rice and Harry Kane finding the net. Italian talent Mateo Retegui, born in Argentina, scored the only goal for the home side in the second half of his debut with the Azzurri jersey. The home team paid tribute to Gianluca Vialli before the match started as it was the first game after his passing last January. England won the first game of the 2024 Euro qualifiers in what is definitely the most difficult game of the group stage while Italy started off with a defeat but will play again this Sunday against Malta where they should rebound.

Here's what to know:

Italian talents still have to shine

Roberto Mancini's new cycle has just started but the road is still a long one. The Italian national team, under the former Manchester City coach, experienced two different phases since he was appointed in 2018. The first thee years were really successful in the qualifiers and culminated with the historical win at the Euros in the final against England at Wembley. Mancini counted on the veterans with some new faces such as Nicolò Barella, Federico Chiesa and Leonardo Spinazzola that were among the best players of the tournament. However, things went downhill and Italy didn't qualify for the 2022 World Cup after losing against North Macedonia in the playoffs. 

Mancini decided to stay in charge and didn't leave despite rumors. The manager started a brand new cycle and called some really young players into the squad. He already did it with Nicolò Zaniolo when he called him in before he made his Serie A debut back in September 2018 and this time he did something similar with players such as Simone Pafundi (born in 2006) and Retegui who chose to play for Italy instead of Argentina.

Pafundi, in particular, is one of the best talents of Italian soccer. He's currently playing for Udinese but not as a starter. Despite that, Mancini said some nice words about him on Monday when he stated that when he writes down the names of the list he's the first one he writes. Willy Gnonto is another player that Mancini trusts, as he already played eight games and scored one after he made his debut in June 2022. Mancini's ambition is to accelerate the process of improving these players in the national team while the clubs are often reluctant to give more minutes to the Italian young stars. It's a very ambitious idea, but Mancini is convinced this has to be done to build for the future. 

Southgate's second try

England are in a completely different position compared to Italy. Southgate's side started this project back in 2016 and already coached the Three Lions in two World Cups and one UEFA Euros. Compared to Italy, Southgate can count on a much more solid squad with young players that are shining in the Premier League for years like Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka. The main difference between Italy and England is that the English young players are regularly playing Premier League and European soccer with their respective clubs, while the Italian ones are struggling to play on a regular basis. 

This is why England, despite their failure to win a trophy, are in a much better position. They're building this project year by year and this consistency of results is leading them to become one of the top candidates at Euro 2024.