England meet Italy here in Milan 439 days after the Euro 2020 final at Wembley that brought despair on the pitch accompanied by bitterness and recriminations off it and with both now seeking to regain lost momentum.
The bare facts state that England suffered the familiar fate of defeat on penalties after a 1-1 draw, the disappointment sharpened by the loss being on home turf and after a 55-year wait to reach a major final. It was a day when what should have been a celebratory occasion was scarred by chaotic scenes caused by widespread hooliganism, a lack of crowd control as barriers were stormed by ticketless England fans, then the racist abuse suffered by Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka after they missed penalties in the shootout.
England and Italy now reconvene in one of world football’s most iconic arenas, the San Siro, with that Euro final seeming an age away and both countries hoping to banish memories of poor results in their last games.
Gareth Southgate’s England can at least use these two Nations League games against Italy and Germany to avoid the embarrassment of relegation from their group but also as sighters for the forthcoming World Cup in Qatar in November.