Football

England's attacking options gives them the edge against Italy

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Historically, England do not begin tournaments well, leaving themselves with plenty to do in the final group game to confirm qualification.

Roy Hodgson knows his 23-man squad have to start impressively in their opening World Cup fixture against Italy, their conquerers in Euro 2012, on June 14. This difficult-looking start may look a taxing task on paper, but England possess the attacking firepower to trouble Italy much more than their penalty shootout defeat in Kiev.

Two years ago, Liverpool pair Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling were not included and their form for the Reds over the past season or so has been nothing short of spectacular.

Sterling, 19, is displaying maturity beyond his years and his direct running and electric pace make him a danger to any side. Sturridge has finally found regular football as a striker and is blossoming for the league leaders as a result.

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli admitted he would love to be able to call upon attackers such as these two, implying he was fearful of the threat they pose.

This statement was made three weeks back and the Italian seemed genuine considering the duo's talent and his forward's lacklustre performances.

Key player Mario Balotelli remains a very inconsistent footballer as the former Manchester City enigma has been unable to help Clarence Seedorf's side move up the Serie A table, with the Rossoneri languishing in eleventh.

Fiorentina's Giuseppe Rossi was once regarded as one of the best finishers around, but a horrendous knee problem has stunted his progress. The American-born Italian has scored 14 in 18 Serie A games, but he has been missing since January and won't be fully-fit for Brazil.

Southampton flop Pablo Osvaldo has been ineffective at Juventus and hasn't scored since joining in January, yet still made last month's squad against Spain. Italy as a team have also been below-par recently - winless in five, including 2-2 home draws against Armenia and Nigeria.

Despite Germany and Chile thoroughly outplaying England in November, the Three Lions have a huge opportunity of starting the tournament well, for once. Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi remain outstanding midfielders for the four-time World champions, but England have players who are comfortable in possession too.

A midfield three of Steven Gerrard, Michael Carrick and Jordan Henderson would give Hodgson's team the technical players to keep the ball while a front trio of Wayne Rooney, Sturridge and Adam Lallana gives them three in-form players who have goals and assists aplenty.

Sturridge has often been condemned for being greedy - not a bad criticism for a goalscorer - yet he has set up seven goals in the league this term under the watchful eye of pass-obsessed Brendan Rodgers.

Theo Walcott's injury was a bitter blow for England, but they still have the trio of Sterling, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Danny Welbeck to scare fatigued defenders with their lightning acceleration. With Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka having excellent seasons again, along with Joe Hart's return to form, England have a lot of first-team regulars who are excelling at the right time.

Prandelli must be praying for Balotelli and Rossi to excel in South America, otherwise Italy's attack will not make Hodgson and co. lose any sleep.

With just 70 days until the meeting in Manaus, time for regaining form is running out for the Italians.

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Topics:
Daniel Sturridge
Football
Steven Gerrard
England Football
Mario Balotelli
Wayne Rooney

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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