This Saturday marks the start of England's World Cup campaign, and it begins against a familiar enemy.
Italy knocked England out of Euro 2012 on penalties after an initial 0-0 draw in 90 minutes, a game that saw midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo make more passes than the entire England midfield combined.
The Three Lions commonly line up with a 4-2-3-1 formation, allowing them to defend in two banks of four whilst off the ball and initiate quick counter attacks when winning it back, along with being able to not get overrun by numbers in midfield.
The strength of this England team is lack of expectation and talented, quick youth. It doesn't look too impressive on paper but when you integrate them into a real team format it looks like a side which could do damage.
Italy's entire game revolves around the world class regista that is Pirlo, dictating the game completely with incredible passing ability. In 2012 Andrea Pirlo managed 131 passes against the Three Lions, with England's best passer being Ashley Cole with just 44.
If England can mark Pirlo out of the game, this will throw Italy off. It takes away their rhythm and guile. It would force them to play a completely different game from what they've been accustomed to and would immediately give England the impetus.
But who will England start with against the 2006 World Cup winners? These are my thoughts:
GK - Joe Hart: The automatic choice and by far the best 'keeper England have. Coming off a winning Premier League campaign with Manchester City, it's a no brainer.
DR - Glen Johnson: Although he can be liability for Liverpool at times, getting caught high up the pitch, in recent years for England he's been disciplined and experienced. He's had a few shaky performances in recent friendlies recently but he's still the best option over Phil Jones.
DL - Leighton Baines: After successfully wrestling the left back spot from Ashley Cole over the last year I don't think there's any doubt who Hodgson's first choice is. Boasting great attacking attributes but lacking defensively he'll need to be shielded well by his left wing partner.
CB - Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka: A consistent pairing throughout the qualifying campaign, both are classic English no nonsense center backs and will fight for the cause.
DMC - Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson: Arranging a defensive double pivot is one of the most important elements of a 4-2-3-1. Needing play one half as an anchor or organiser and one half as more of a box to box option. With outstanding passing range, experience and intelligence Gerrard is perfectly suited to being the organiser.
It'll be his job to sit in front of the back four, keep England ticking over and lead the team through example. For the other spot it was between Henderson and Wilshere, I opted to start Henderson as he's better defensively, with the option of putting Wilshere on in the second half to run against tired legs if England need that spark.
LM - Danny Welbeck: Welbeck is an underrated commodity in the current England side. He may not boast great form or have had a good season, but he'll get the job done for England on the left hand side. He'll be up and down for the entire 90 minutes, shielding Baines and allowing his defensive frailties to be much less apparent.
RM - Raheem Sterling: One of the biggest surprises of the season. Under Brendan Rogers he has sparked to life after burning out in his début campaign. Boasting incredible pace, positivity and the ability to go past players, he will make things happen.
CAM - Wayne Rooney: Many England fans will be calling for Ross Barkley, and he has impressed greatly over the last year, but Rooney is still the main choice for me. In recent years he's struggled up front for England, largely because of his lack of fitness and his tendency to drop so deep to retain the ball; this year he has neither problem.
He looks fit, and with a designated number 9 playing ahead of him he has total freedom to float all around the midfield and make his mark. It'll likely be his job to drop deep and mark Pirlo out of the game, if he can do this he gives England their biggest chance of winning.
ST - Daniel Sturridge: Second only to Luis Suarez in the Premier League goalscoring charts this season, Sturridge has been an important player for the side that came so close to winning the English title against all the odds.
He's a natural No.9, something England haven't had in recent years, and with blistering pace, quick feet and the ability to be a threat from anywhere inside the box he could make a real difference.
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