Roy Hodgson and his England team don’t have the world expecting them to walk away with the cup, but there are a few matchups they’re sure to dominate—namely this first match in the group against Italy. With a little luck, they may even go further…
England is a young team that lacks World Cup experience and team leader Wayne Rooney has seen better days. Combine that with their lackluster play, they probably won’t impress anyone they meet up on the field. There’s an upside to that however, since all of the other teams matched up with England in Group D—Italy, Uruguay or Costa Rica—happen to be pretty punchless themselves. In that way, there is still a lot to get excited about with this team. Let’s break it down…
This Is 2014, Not 2010
Any England fan will be able to enjoy the Group phase of the World Cup. It’s not going to be a repeat of the team’s showing in South Africa, where they could only manage one win, and against Slovenia at that. Based on the middling group England has selected, only Italy really stands in the way of England reaching the Round 16 in the second stage of the tournament.
Roy Hodgson has chosen players who are in their prime: Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley, Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. None of them have any experience playing in a World Cup. That is not going to be a factor. This team is going to show up and play—partly because it’s such a young team that doesn’t have past Cup failures to dog them. Then there’s Wayne Rooney, of course.
Wayne Rooney Can Still Be Good
Rooney has never looked good at the World Cup stage of play because of injuries sustained prior to those games in 2006 and 2010, not even scoring a single goal. He’s a star player who hasn’t ever played like a star in a World Cup. There is a camp that says Rooney shouldn’t even start against Italy. His former United teammate Paul Scholes says that Rooney has worn himself out. This is the star forward’s chance to prove everyone wrong.
Italy Can’t Win
On June 14, when Italy and England go head to head at Arena Amazônia in Manaus expect to see some fireworks. Of the entire group, Italy poses the only real challenge to England’s success. A win here will change the outlook for the Three Lions in the tournament. The chances of that happening are looking increasingly more likely: Italy’s manager Cesare Prandelli and the rest of his team have admitted they are not ready to compete, coming off of seven straight winless friendly matches. With their recent draw against Luxembourg, Italy has not won a match since September. The team’s problems stem from their inability to defend at the corners, wasting scoring opportunities, and a tendency to leave a lot of space out wide.
England’s full-backs are sure to attack this and we believe it will be a sure victory for them. What is your bet on this? Let us know in the comments below.