The England vs Italy match will be held at the Arena Amazonia in Manaus on Saturday, June 14, 2014 at 3:00 PM Pacific. England get their World Cup campaign underway against the side that put them out of the European Championships 2012 on penalties.
In that game, the two sides played out a painfully stagnant 0-0, seemingly both happy to let it go to the lottery of a penalty shootout. This time however, there is no chance of that, and a draw won’t be particularly useful for either side, as Uruguay could potentially knock out either team.
England have a youthful and energetic look to their squad, although whether or not Hodgson decides to gamble on youth remains to be seen. If he does go for some of the younger players with drive and pace, the Italians could struggle.
England Team News
Danny Welbeck is back in contention after an ankle injury sustained in training this week, and he seems to be the preferred choice playing from the right at the moment, with Sterling waiting in the wings should he not be ready. Oxlade-Chamberlain will not be available, although he is recovering well at this stage.
Despite calls from some areas of the press to drop the talismanic Wayne Rooney, it would be madness to do so. Rooney is due a big tournament, the last two World Cups have represented two major disappointments to the Manchester United star, and previously he has not been 100% fit for either. This time however, there will be no excuses.
Italy Team News
Italy will be pleased to have Mario Balotelli back after a minor hernia injury, and they will also have Marco Verratti back after a bout of flu. Cesare Prandelli is likely to pick three central defenders, due to Mattia De Sciglio sustaining a thigh strain.
With Pirlo pulling the strings from midfield, the Italians will attempt to control the pace of the game and retain possession. The heat in Manaus will be a factor, although it will perhaps affect the English more than the Italians.
England vs Italy Prediction
The humidity around the Amazonian venue, as well the well-documented state of the pitch, will play its part in the outcome here, but England come into the game in far better shape than they did two years ago. On that night, Pirlo completed more passes on his own than the entire England midfield, and at 33 years of age he covered more kilometres than any England player. It was a night of shame for the English and they will be especially keen to ensure that is not repeated.
England have only won two out of their last 11 games with the Italians, however, with the right team selection the Italians may struggle to deal with some of the artillery England have in their ranks. If Sterling, Barkley and Lallana feature at some point, they could cause all kinds of problems. Balotelli, if on form, will also be a huge danger, however, it is Rooney who will be the focal point of this game, and he could be the difference here. Prediction: England 2 – 1 Italy.
England vs Italy Television
The England vs Italy match will be televised on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, Univision, Univision Deportes and ESPN 3 (stream).