Football

World Cup 2014: England's easiest opponents will be Italy

Published Add your comment

Football News
24/7

It has been labelled a "worst case scenario" for England. Based at the foot of Sugar Loaf Mountain, the Three Lions will have to haul themselves on a four-hour trek to the depths of the Amazon rainforest for their opening Group D game against Italy.

On paper, it looks a tall order for England to beat the Azzurri, before crunch games against Uruguay and Costa Rica, but their first game will arguably be their easiest.

There are several reasons for this, the most notable being their fellow Europeans' torrid build-up to the tournament.

First there was the injury to midfield dynamo Riccardo Montolivo in Italy's goalless draw with Republic of Ireland, and then they managed only a 1-1 draw with whipping boys Luxembourg with less than a fortnight to go.

If ever there was a team going into a World Cup on the back of a more uncertain pre-World Cup campaign than England, it would be Italy.

Not only that, but the much-touted playing conditions - labelled by some as 'inhumane' - will affect the Italians just as much as Roy Hodgson's men.

Unfancied Costa Rica and Luis Suarez-powered Uruguay will be well-versed in playing in 30-degree heat and humidity levels nearing 100 percent, but their European group-mates will not.

But even then, the more fluid, attacking play common within their play will be neutered.

England can expect to have little possession against all three of their Group D opponents, due to the more technical-based superior passers the others boast.

But given the extreme conditions, the games' energy, pace and quality run the risk of being sapped away. This will suit England down to the ground.

In a game against Italy, which will likely be played predominantly at walking pace, England boast a pragmatic side that know how to grid out a result.

They will put men behind the ball against the Italians, look to frustrate them, and boast a young core of upstarts that could be deadly in the latter stages of the game.

All it will take is a tactical switch around the 70th minute, throwing the explosive prodigies such as Ross Barkley, Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana on, to ensure England can best their European rivals.

And make no mistake, this is a group where four points could well be enough to ensure qualification into the second round.

Set pieces have always been key for the Three Lions, and superior aerial prowess coupled with proven dead-ball specialists will certainly provide a vital weapon to exploit.

Imagine the confidence boost for them as well, if they are able to pick up an opening game victory.

They'll go into the games against Uruguay - with a shaky defence that could be torn apart by England's pace - and Costa Rica respectively, knowing that they've already scalped a pre-tournament favourite.

Another win against either of those and they'd be favourites to top the group.

Roy Hodgson will go with a steady first team for the opener, primed to release the pacy youth contingent if needed to hit the Italians on the counter.

In a game that will be dogged and attritional, one smash and grab burst of energy could be enough to swing it England's way.

They have the players in reserve to come off the bench and do damage. Italy do not.

For that reason alone it is most likely that England will face a simpler test in Manaus than they will against the superior technical sides in Costa Rica and Uruguay.

In those games, their sturdy, physical play is likely to be unpicked and their gifted, fast-flowing youngsters outclassed by the likes of Bryan Ruiz, Edinson Cavani and Walter Gargano.

Oh, and that Luis Suarez chap isn't bad either.

They may have missed out on the optimum group - Group E - to France, which would have theoretically provided them with the best chance of qualifying to the knockout stages, and will have to play games in the stifling heat of Manaus.

In a way, England have the perfect alibi if their World Cup ends in group stage elimination, but with absolutely no pressure upon them to succeed, they might not even need to use it.


Write for GiveMeSport! Sign-up to the GMS Writing Academy here: http://gms.to/1a2u3KU

DISCLAIMER: 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.

Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms

Topics:
World Cup
Italy Football
England Football
Football

Article Comments

Report author of article

Please let us know if you believe this article is in violation of our editorial policy, please only report articles for one of the following reasons.

Report author

DISCLAIMER

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.

Want more content like this?

Like our GiveMeSport Facebook Page and you will get this directly to you.

Already Subscribed to Facebook, don't ask me again

Follow GiveMeSport on Twitter and you will get this directly to you.

Already Following, don't ask me again

Like our GiveMeSport Page and you will get this directly to you.

Already Subscribed to G+, don't ask me again