Saturday June 14, 2014 (6 p.m. EST)
The last time these teams met was in the quarterfinals of the 2012 European Championship. The Italians dominated the game, but the English defense was very strong and it was decided on penalties. The Italians prevailed 4-2, but this time around, there are very different teams taking to the pitch. Have a look at the highlights from that match:
England – The Three Lions
Coach – Roy Hodgson. Roy has been their manager since the start of the 2012 European Championship and has put together a talented squad mixing the young with the old.
Tournament history – 1 World Cup win in 1966
FIFA Ranking – #10
This is a very strong England team and the English fans are a little nervous to get too excited since they have a history of underperforming. It seems that they have found a great mix of older talent with the explosive younger players. England will be able to attack with speed and have confidence in strong backfield to protect them.
Italy – Azzurri
Coach – Cesare Prandelli. Manager since the 2010 World Cup and coached the team to the 2012 European Championship finals. He has altered the style of Italian play from focused defense to spreading attack.
Tournament history – 4 World Cup wins in 2006, 1982, 1938, 1934 and 2 final appearances in 1994 and 1970.
FIFA Ranking – #9
The Italians always have a presence in the World Cup, the notable exception being in 2010 where they failed to get out of the group stage. They are the type of team that can show up at any time and win. They are notoriously slow starters when it comes to the tournament, but have a way of adding flair to all the games.
There are some concerns with the stadium and playing surface for this game, but I think it will be a cautious match for both sides. Both teams are expected to get out of the group and a draw here will make them both happy. Don’t look for a blow-out, but I think that England will strike first and then Italy will get it back in the second half.