Italy has their work cut out for them in this daunting Gorup D, and the first challenge they face will be on Saturday against England. Here are the three things that must happen in order for the Azzurri to come out on top.
The Full Backs Must Create Chances on the Wings
Ignazio Abate and likely Mattia De Sciglio will be the full backs for the Italian side, and their play down the wing is essential to creating chances. Italy has plenty of talent in the midfield, but historically have had issues establishing width in their game. If the two full backs can make runs down the wings that will lead to crossing opportunities, Italy should have vast success on the offensive end.
Italy Needs to Step Out of Their Defensive-Minded Comfort Zone
It is no secret that the bread and butter of the Italian style of play of defense first, offense second has been established long before Cesare Prandelli took the reigns, but in order for the Azzurri to be successful not only against England, but Costa Rica and Uruguay as well, they need to have a bit more sense of urgency as opposed to their more methodical approach. You could make the case that while they have some speed, Italy may be the slowest side in Group D. That being said, they need to take chances on offense and have the peace of mind that their back four has the capability to stop the counter attack if necessary.
Mario Balotelli Needs To Pick Up Where He Left Off From EURO 2012
The performance Mario Balotelli put up in 2012 was absolutely memorable. In essence, he WAS the reason the Azzurri reached the final. As I’ve stated above, Italy is a vastly defensive-minded team, making Super Mario a bit of an outlier as far as his style of play is concerned. That being said, Balotelli must execute the chances he is given, because a dry spell in Brazil for Balotelli will all but certainly result in an early exit from the tournament. Moreover, when Balotelli is on his game, the remaining 10 players have a tendency to pick up the pace and play with his urgency. Without a solid day in, day out performance from Balotelli, not just against England but the entire tournament, the Azzurri will have long, disappointing flight back home after the group stage.