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FIFA World Cup 2014: England vs Italy Preview

Written by @Wayde_D for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 


England vs Italy | Sunday 15 June | Arena Amazonia, Manaus | 00:00 

wc14englandvsitalyintroEngland and Italy resume their rivalry in what many are calling the Group of Death in this year’s World Cup. The two sides last met in the Euro 2012 quarter-finals, when the Italians triumphed in a penalty shootout. Both sides did extremely well in qualifying for this year’s show piece, topping their respective groups while remaining unbeaten. However, Uruguay are being tipped as favourites to top the group leaving this match as probably the most important clash for these two nations.

wc14englandvsitalyrooneysturridgeTo Win (90mins)
England 18/10
Draw 19/10
Italy 31/20

England
The Three Lions were excellent in the World Cup qualifying stages, winning six and drawing four of their ten games. They scored an impressive 31 goals, whilst only conceding four. Roy Hodgson will be using a youthful squad as they take a somewhat new direction after the years of disappointment they have endured. Young players who have shot to prominence in the Premier League in the last couple of years will predominantly make up the revamped England squad. A win, or even a draw with a good performance, could be the perfect confidence builder for a young, but clearly talented team. England could very well end up being one of the teams to keep an eye on if they are to make the knockout stages as they have many players capable of moments of brilliance in tight matches.

To do that though, they will want to get off to a positive start in their group and for momentum and confidence to build from there. Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney was England’s top scorer in qualifying with seven goals and with the likes of Daniel Sturridge in form, the Three Lions will be deadly in attack. It has been a coming-of-age campaign for Sturridge who had previously drifted between the country’s biggest clubs without ever impacting his talent. Until now, that is. Sturridge has been breathtaking this season, a return of 25 goals in all competitions for Liverpool elevating him to certain-starter status in Brazil. He scores, he creates, he terrifies opposition defenders and he will be rearing to perform on the big stage

Italy
wc14englandvsitalypirloItaly also won six and drew four of their ten qualifying matches but scored only nineteen goals and conceded five more than England, nine. Italy’s ability and willingness to change their shape and selections during a game could be key to their progress. Coach Cesare Prandelli has been preparing his squad for a number of situations ahead of this summer. Italy distinguished themselves by alternating the Juventus 3-5-2 with 4-3-1-2 en-route to the final at Euro 2012 and experimented with other systems last summer too. Mario Balotelli may be the most mercurial figure in European soccer, but he’s also a rare calibre of player who can take over a tournament by himself. With his physical gifts, he can be unstoppable. The AC Milan striker was the Azzurri’s leading scorer at Euro 2012 and World Cup qualifying campaign. Keeping things tight at the back is Juventus’ Giorgio Chiellini. The battle-hardened defender has been an immovable presence in defence since making his debut ten years ago. While the side can now boast youthful exuberance in Verratti, Balotelli, Lorenzo Insigne and Stephan El Shaarawy, Chiellini – along with Daniele de Rossi and Andrea Pirlo – epitomise the resolute drive that has accompanied Italy in their finest moments.

VERDICT: Draw 19/10
England have managed just two victories over Italy in their last eleven meetings and have never beaten them at a major tournament. This should be a very close game; it usually is. There isn’t much between the sides and it could be another cagey affair. The draw is tipped.

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