GROUP D: England vs. Italy by
The new Arena Amazônia in Manaus is still not ready for kickoff, but the two teams certainly are – and will serve us the match of the night in a football festival that will surely be a sight to see. With Uruguay and Costa Rica filling up group numbers, it seems that advancement will be decided between these two contenders – and it first place is what the fight will be for.
Countering the Italians’ approach of stumbling through the group phase to later success, the English squad will provide them with a jump-start in the second group D match of the night.
The squad’s coach, Roy Hodgson, has experience coaching Inter Milan, so he knows the Italians’ playing style better than anyone. How well will he use that knowledge against them, and how many promising youths will he put on the pitch?
Regardless of the younger generation, Wayne Rooney, the team’s biggest star, will certainly be playing. However, England’s best player has yet to outshine his 2004 success at the Euro. With Daniel Sturridge becoming a strong contender for the main striker role, it seems that this match may count towards settling more than one rivalry/
Italy have lost their left-back Mattia De Sciglio to a right leg injury in a training session on Thursday. If he will be deemed unfit to play, Cesare Prandelli will have preciously little time to draft a second pick in his place.
One of the team’s players, Andrea Barzagli, spoke about the Azzurri’s strategy for the big game. “We have tried different ways of making life difficult for the English defence. Ball on the ground, always, never in the air, because our opponents are very strong in the air”, he said. „The organisers will do everything they can to get the pitch in a good state,” he added, referring to the construction issues that are plaguing Arena Amazônia til the very end.
The team will be playing proactively and with confidence, it seems. With a brilliant Juventus trio in defense, the Italians will be able to focus on offensive plays and not letting the English execute a counterattack, one of their biggest strengths.
With hot and humid weather expected to play its part, as well as taking into account the poor playing surface, we might not see the most dynamic of football in this game. However, a match between two former World Champions cannot be anything but interesting – as neither team feels they can afford to lose.
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