Italy wins the match against England 2-1. England played well early on, registering shots from Sterling and Henderson. After the initial England pressure, each team probed the other with opportunities in the final third. Both teams played cat and mouse with each other. Roy Hodgson seemed to be okay with England containing Italy for the first half. Italy controlled possession in the England half early on, but were unable to break the England defense until the 35th minute. Italy scored the first goal via a dummy from Pirlo off the corner and the shot from Marchisio, who slotted the shot into the bottom left corner through traffic. England showed a backbone though, by battling back and equalizing two minutes later. Sterling played a magnificent ball through to Wayne Rooney and then Rooney played a great ball to Sturridge, who finished it home with a shot off the half volley.
England was able to hinder Andrea Pirlo in the first half by cutting down his distribution but could not shut him down completely. The bigger issue for England was the defense down the left hand side. Time after time, Baines was being caught on a 2 on 1 from Italy. Passes were being slotted through Rooney and Baines. As the 2nd Half started, Hodgson swapped Rooney and Welbeck so that Welbeck could help Baines out down the left side. In the 50th minute though, Italy worked the ball down England’s left hand side and crossed a ball into Mario Balotelli. Cahill and Jagielka had done well to isolate Balotelli until then. Cahill got caught ball watching and Balotelli headed the cross home in the 50th minute. Joe Hart never had much of a chance.
Roy Hodsgon brought on Barkely, Wilshere, and Lallana in the second half. Barkley had a spark early on with a shot that challenged the Italian GK Sirigu. After that, none of the substitutes seemed to make that much of an impact. The England subs were supposed to change the pace and attitude of the game, but never reached the point where they were effective. With the weather in Manaus, especially the humidity, the England subs should have done better to reinvigorate the England squad and put pressure on the tired Italian back four.
England played well during the game, despite the few moments that they lacked concentration. Those moments proved to be costly. However, the attacking force of Sturridge, Sterling, Welbeck, and Rooney was promising. With Uruguay losing to Costa Rica today, England may still have a good chance at making it through the group stage. There were many promising aspects to the England game, even though they lost to a more composed Italian team. Welbeck was able to hinder Pirlo while Sterling and Sturridge were able to pressure the Italian defense. The major downfall was England’s inability to figure out the problem on the left hand side. Other than that major flaw, England played well. They certainly played a better style of football than previously before. It will be interesting to see what Roy Hodgson and the England squad bring against Uruguay and Costa Rica.
England suffered a difficult loss to Italy, but it seems that Roy Hodgson is able to produce a team that can realistically make it out of Group D.
Highlights: You can view the HD England vs Italy highlights on the official FIFA website here.