England v Italy: Preview and prediction – 14.06.2014

By on June 15, 2014

The second game of Group D will see England take on Italy as the three lions look for revenge against the Azzuri who knocked them out of Euro 2012. Both sides know that this is a crucial game in their quest for a place in the knockout phases.

England and Italy are in one of the toughest groups of the tournaments with Uruguay and Costa Rica. Although Cost Rica are the weakest team of the group and might not have a chance of making it to the next round, the battle between England, Italy and Uruguay will go down to the wire as only two of them can qualify. All the more reason for both England and Italy to be motivated for this game.

England have very bad memories of facing Italy in recent major tournaments. The two sides met each other at Euro 2012 where the Italians knocked them out of the tournament on a penalty shootout. England will have revenge on their minds and that could be the motivation they need to do well in this game. The England national team has been under the microscope for quite some time and a lot of the critics have called for a change in the playing philosphy. England have always been a 4-4-2 playing side but Roy Hodgson’s team setup in the recent friendlies seems to suggest that they are ready for change. They have used the 4-2-3-1 quite well in those friendlies and it is suspected that they will start with the same in this game. The real question is, which players will Hodgson chose for those specific positions. Some have argued that Wayne Rooney should start up front and the younster Ross Barkley should be part of the starting XI. While others suggest that Rooney might do well on the left wing, with Sterling behind Daniel Sturridge. Southampton midfielder Adam Lallana is however everybody’s favorite to start the game. Hodgson also has some tough decisions to make as to how they will control Andrea Pirlo in this game. Last time these two sides me, back in the quarter finals of Euro 2012, Pirlo was the man running the show and caused all sort of problems for the three lions. He’s expected to do the same this time around and although he might not have the legs to cover vast amounts of distance, he still can unfold a defence with a single pass and that would be the real threat for Hodgson’s men.

England success in this year’s torunament might be down to how the Liverpool players in the squad can combine for the national team. Steven Gerrard, Johnson, Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge have been immense for the Liverpool this past season and if they can work together and form the same chemistry between themselves in the national team, then there is no doubt that England will take many teams by surprise.

England played three friendlies going into the Worlc Cup winning one and drawing the other two. They won against Peru but the draws were not very convincing at all as they conceded twice against Ecuador and were held by Honduras. England have only won two of their last 11 internationals against Italy (D3 L6), losing to them on penalties in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012. England have only lost two of their last 16 World Cup games (W7 D7, including two penalty shoot-out defeats). England are undefeated in their last 10 matches in FIFA World Cup

Italy, unlike England, have fond memories of this tie from Euro 2012. In the quarter finals of that tournament, Italy won against England on a penalty shootout and they will be looking to do the same this time around although, of course, there is no option of a penalty shootout in this game and they will have to do what they can in regulation time. Last time around, Andrea Pirlo was the midfield orchestrator running the entire show and there is no doubt that Cesare Prandelli will start the game with the same philosophy, that is, to keep Pirlo in the center of things and give him the freedom to dictate play. With Ricardo Montolivo’s injury, Prandelli has a couple of tough decisions to make himself regarding that #10 role. It is still unclear who will start in that position with Marco Veratti and Candreva being the names going around. Italy have to rely on their creative midfielders to do the job as they donot have a lot of pace in their team and if to open the English defence, they cannot simply rely on balls being played into the wider areas. Prandelli’s 4-3-1-2 provides a lot of cover for the defence as well with three midfielders covering the defence and that could turn this game into a very tight affair.

Injury to Ricardo Montollivo came at probably the worst possible time for Italy. He is Italy’s only genuine #10 and his absence leaves a huge gap in the midifield which the likes of Candreva and Veratti can attempt to fill but their effectiveness is still doubtful. Cesare Prandelli might be tempted to play a three man forward line with either one of Insigne or Candreva starting.

Italy took part in two friendlies before the World Cup, drawing both of those games and that is not a good sing either. They were held 0-0 by Ireland and 1-1 by Luxembourg. Italy have scored in each of their last 14 games at the World Cup, the longest current run. The last time they failed to score was on 3 July 1998 against France. Italy have conceded 14 goals from outside the box at the World Cup, more than any other team since 1966. Italy are undefeated in their last 10 matches in FIFA World Cup and have scored at least 2 goals in 9 of their last 11 matches in FIFA World Cup.

England will be without Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who is out with an injury. He will be back in time for England’s second game. Danny Welbeck is doubtful but he might get a start if he is fit in time. Rooney is tipped to start behind Daniel Sturridge with Sterling and Lallana taking control of the wings. Liverpool duo of Gerrard and Henderson might be given the start with Jack Wilshere likely to start on the bench.

Italy are still unclear on who to start in the #10 role. Marco Veratti might start in that role. Danielle de Rossi will form the base of the midfielr trio with Andrea Pirlo and Marchisio taking up the creative duties. de Sciglio is doubtful owing to an injury and Bonucci might start in his place at left back. Mario Balotelli is set to start up front but it is unclear who will partner him. Both Ciro Immobile and Cerci have equal chance of starting. If Prandelli chooses a three man forward line, then Insigne and Candreva might come in the fold.

DATE: June 14, 2014

TIME: 11:00 PM BST

VENUE: Arena Amazonia, Manaus, Amazonas

REFEREE: B. Kuipers

England (4-2-3-1):- Hart; Baines, Cahill, Jagielka, Johnson; Henderson, Gerrard; Sterling, Rooney, Lallana; Sturidge
Italy (4-3-1-2):- Buffon; Bonucci, Chiellini, Barzagli, Abate; de Rossi, Pirlo, Marchisio; Verrati; Balotelli, Cerci

England:- D D W
Italy:- D D L

AUTHOR’s PREDICTION: England 1-1 Italy

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