England kick off their 2014 World Cup campaign in Manaus today against the 2006 champions. Whilst the pressure may appear to be off Roy Hodgson’s team this summer with lower expectations than usual, they certainly don’t want to lose their opening game of the tournament.
Their opponents are winless since September but were finalists at Euro 2012 and experienced the Brazilian climate 12 months ago in reaching the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup where they lost on penalties.
England-Italy 0 goals in first half – 2.40
These two played out a 0-0 draw at Euro 2012 and given it’s the opening game of the World Cup I expect both European nations to be playing to avoid defeat than going all out for a victory in poor conditions on a terrible pitch.
England-Italy draw – 2.95
Roy Hodgson will no doubt play defensively with the hope of scoring on the counter attack, whilst the Italians are a threat from set pieces and any time Andrea Pirlo has the ball at his feet.
Earlier in the day, Group D gets underway with South Americans Uruguay taking on Costa Rica. The Central American side are widely expected to finish with 0 points in this group against three of the stronger nations in the tournament.
Uruguay HT/FT – 2.10
Luis Suárez may be ruled out for the first game, and in all reality, he’ll probably see very little action during the World Cup at best with a meniscus injury.
Uruguay still have the freescoring Edinson Cavani up front as well as the FIFA Player of the Tournament from four years ago, Diego Forlán. They look like a side better going forward than they do at the back and for that I expect to see Uruguay taking the game to Costa Rica from the start and scoring in the first half.
This should be a comfortable win for Uruguay.
Costa Rica 0 points – 2.35
The group is very tough for Costa Rica and it’s hard to see where they will pick up a point. Maybe if England have already been eliminated before their final group game meeting!
They have a good shot stopper in Keylar Navas and a pacey striker in Joel Campbell but you’ve got to admit there’s little else in Costa Rica side that look able to matchup to the likes of Italy, Uruguay and England. Bryan Ruiz has the ability but has he got the work rate?
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