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Zaza and Immobile impress

Italy
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Horncastle: Italy roll dice on Conte

Italy
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ESPN FC  By Dale Johnson

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo behind Diego Godin for most minutes played

Diego Godin must continue his superb form for Atletico if Uruguay is to contend for top honors this summer.
Diego Godin celebrates after scoring for Atletico Madrid against Real Madrid in the 2014 Champions League final.

There's been a lot of football played over the past two years, and one player leads the way in minutes played by some considerable distance. This player has effectively played over four more games than any other. 

He has led his team to La Liga glory, to the verge of ultimate European glory and has taken over the captaincy of his country.

But while he plays in Spain, he isn't one of the biggest stars of the world game at Barcelona or Real Madrid. 

In first place is Atletico Madrid...

John Brewin profile picture  By John Brewin

Andros Townsend saves Roy Hodgson as England draw with Italy

Andros Townsend equalises late for England as they play out a 1-1 draw with Italy in Turin.

Three points on the 1-1 friendly draw between Italy and England on Tuesday.

1. Townsend saves England

Andros Townsend is a confirmed favourite of England manager Roy Hodgson. No wonder, since the Tottenham winger was the wild card who inspired his country at the tail end of qualification for the last World Cup. Hodgson wanted to take Townsend to Brazil before injury intervened, and the manager's admiration can only have been enhanced by Townsend's thrilling equaliser in Turin.

Townsend's 79th-minute,...

Vazquez could use Italy call-up to prove success isn't limited to Palermo

ESPN FC's Paul Mariner and Mark Donaldson preview the international friendly between Italy and England in Turin.
Argentinian-born Franco Vazquez could make his Italy debut vs. England on Tuesday.

Franco Vázquez will become the latest member of Italy's national team if he takes to the field against England in Turin on Tuesday. The Argentinian-born attacking midfielder, whose mother hails from Padua in northern Italy, has enjoyed an excellent season in Serie A with Palermo with seven goals and nine assists and is expected to make his debut off the bench for Antonio Conte's side.

Vázquez was born in Tanti, Córdoba province to an Italian mother and Argentinian father. He grew...

John Brewin profile picture  By John Brewin

England vs. Italy may be a friendly but it remains crucial for Roy Hodgson

Perspiration dripped from Roy Hodgson's forehead as he delivered his verdict on England's 2-1 loss to Italy in Manaus, their opening match of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. But he was not sweating on suffering a defeat.

The Amazonian heat was oppressive for fans and journalists. His players' drop in energy levels in the second half was wholly understandable considering the 84.2 degree Fahrenheit temperature and 88 percent humidity, but the English had taken heart from a spirited performance. There...

Verratti struggles to escape Pirlo's shadow in Italy's midfield

Eder's beautiful debut goal for Italy came late and helped earn a draw to increase their unbeaten run in qualification competitions to 45.

For La Gazzetta dello Sport, it was "Verratti Time". Saturday's Euro 2016 qualifier against Bulgaria in Sofia was anticipated as the moment for the "little owl" to deliver for his country like he does for his club.

Daniele De Rossi had been left out of the squad on account of a loss of form, while also missing was Andrea Pirlo, who stayed in Turin to complete his recovery from a groin strain, and Claudio Marchisio, who suffered a controversial and bitterly disputed injury during a warm-up at Italy's...

 By Michael Cox

Can Verratti, De Gea and Kane break into their national teams' starting XIs?

The ESPN FC crew debate whether or not Harry Kane should start up front for England against Lithuania.

The European Championship's expansion to a 24-team tournament has a multitude of effects -- one is that it effectively gives the major countries a free pass. Therefore, managers have more license to experiment and evolve their side with significantly less risk of failure.

Here are five fine talents still attempting to break into their country's first-choice XI -- what chance do they have of overhauling more established names?

1. Marco Verratti, Italy

By this stage, we expected Verratti to be Italy's...