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England Prepare To Take On Italy In Brazil 2014 Opener

Friday 13th June 2014
Will we see a repeat performance of the Euro 2012 match between the two sides as England and Italy begin their 2014 World Cup campaigns? Jack Kitson takes a look at the prospects for the match.

A nation will unite on Saturday evening as England embark on another World Cup rollercoaster as the Three Lions do battle with Italy in a mouth-watering Group D clash as the European heavyweights head to the rainforest to deal with the hot, humid conditions of Manaus in one of the early highlights of what is set to be a phenomenal spectacle in Brazil over the next month.

England fans will have very vivid memories of that dour goalless draw with the Azzurri in the 2012 European Championships with the latter prevailing on penalties, but Roy Hodgson's side has had somewhat of a makeover since then with the attacking options oozing youth and excitement, but in the Italians they still face a side who can call on the talents of playmaking extraordinaire Andrea Pirlo and that is why they are the narrow 7/4 favourites with Paddy Power to bag the win.

Reports that Danny Welbeck would miss the tie were quashed by Wayne Rooney, so Hodgson will have to make the decision whether to stick with the hard-working Manchester United attacker, a man he entrusted throughout the qualification stages, or go with Raheem Sterling or Ross Barkley, who have propelled into the limelight during the Premier League season with some sensational attacking performances on Merseyside.

Even though Hodgson has a head-scratcher in the attacking third, he is limited to say the least in the defensive area and an element of vulnerability throughout the backline will mean the likes of the aforementioned Pirlo and Mario Balotelli will be aiming to pierce a gap in the rearguard and that is why Ladbrokes have England as the 21/10 outsiders in the contest that is live on BBC One at 11:00pm BST.

A defeat for either side will leave them teetering on the edge of elimination, with the loser likely to have to beat Costa Rica and Uruguay in the other two Group D games, so it's sure to be a cagey affair from the first whistle, as it was when the pair met at the Euros two years ago, so many punters will sit on the fence and Paddy Power are a best price 2/1 for parity after 90 minutes.

Warm conditions could well be the catalyst for a rather pedestrian contest, but both sides have that little bit of quality that could orchestrate some magic in the opponent's box with Daniel Sturridge a particular shining beacon in the England attack and the Liverpool hotshot is an attractive 7/1 with Ladbrokes to open the scoring, whilst Balotelli, who could lead the line on his own for the Italians is available at 6/1 in the latest betting with bet365.

With both sides having the capacity to create chances then it's worth ignoring the 11/2 market leader for a 0-0 draw and the same price is available for a 1-1 draw which could prove to be a vital point for both teams as they look to use this clash as a springboard to more success later on in the competition, whilst Paddy Power's 6/5 for both teams to score could be another standout flutter in an intriguing contest.
Steve Chambers
Steve has been avid follower of Bristol City and trips to Ashton Gate since the mid 1990s have seen him fall in love with the club, but success has hardly been a regular emotion felt by him and twin that with England's failures he has not tasted to many exciting days as a football fan. However, he enjoys all parts of the "Beautiful Game" and whether it's a Champions League match or Conference clash, Steve enjoys watching the heat of the battle. Sport is certainly his passion, but football is the one that gets him excited the most and he will be looking to provide some informative, yet sometimes controversial pieces for you to enjoy as the reader.

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