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England v Italy: Why £30m Arsenal target could be lethal tonight in Manaus



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When it comes to surprising the opposition, the Italians remains the masters of tactical unpredictability. While Cesare Prandelli is still undecided on his formation, whether to play a midfield diamond, a Christmas tree or pick two strikers up front, AC Milan hitman Mario Balotelli surely remains the coach’s most obvious choice to derail the opposition.

Also see – England v Italy Preview: Azzurri the ultimate first test for Hodgson’s boys


Prandelli had earlier focused on a central midfield pivot which paid dividends in Euro 2012, the Azzurri however have the tactical flexibility to change their formation within games.

For an in depth analysis on Italy’s game plan for the World Cup, read here

Balotelli is expected to lead the line, and if the controversial genius can repeat his exploits of Euro 2012, the Italians can back themselves for a long run into the tournament. The 23-year-old former Manchester City striker, who has recently been linked with Arsenal, is expected to make his deep yet direct runs into the England penalty box which would be quite a tough task for Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill to control.

Balotelli is more than capable of hitting the back of the net if given a chance to shoot, hence Steven Gerrard or Jordan Henderson should close him down as soon as he picks the ball up from a deep position.

Moreover with Serie A top scorer Ciro Immobile also in the reckoning for a starting eleven spot, Balotelli might be eventually given the license to make runs off the Dortmund striker, which makes him an even more dangerous prospect for the Three Lions. England have the burden of the huge expectations from back home and Roy Hodgson’s side are known to crumble and wilt under pressure.

Key World Cup links:

England’s World Cup 2014 Team Page.
Italy’s World Cup 2014 Team Page.
World Cup 2014 Matches – Fixtures & Results
World Cup 2014 Player & Team Stats
World Cup 2014 Group Tables
Watch live World Cup matches online.
Our main World Cup 2014 news page.
The Official Soccerlens World Cup Predictor Game.

What do you think? Who will triumph in Manuas?