England vs. Italy: Match Preview and Analysis

England vs. Italy: Match Preview and Analysis

England vs. Italy: Match Preview and Analysis
By Ryan Stetson
Covers.com

England vs. Italy

Odds:
England +165, Draw +185, Italy +165

Total: 2.5, Over +140, Under -200

About England:

FIFA ranking:
No. 6

Rescent results: 1-0 win vs. Ukraine 2012-06-19, 3-2 win vs. Sweden 2012-06-15, 1-1 draw vs. France 2012-06-11.

Wayne Rooney didn’t disappoint in his return from a two-game ban, scoring the lone goal to push England past Ukraine to take the top spot in Group D. But many English supporters weren’t impressed.

England looked out of sorts for most of the match and didn’t generate many attacking chances until a lucky bounce came right to Rooney for the only goal. The club’s big question for this match is whether to keep Rooney's Manchester United teammate, Danny Welbeck, in his starting striking role or to replace him with Andy Carroll.

Lost in the shuffle was a fine effort from keeper Joe Hart, who made a number of tough saves to help England past Ukraine after yielding a couple of goals in the previous match.

About Italy

FIFA ranking:
No. 12

Recent results: 2-0 win vs. Ireland 2012-06-18, 1-1 draw vs. Croatia 2012-06-14, 1-1 draw vs. Spain 2012-06-10

The Azzurri are as unpredictable as their hot-head striker, Mario Balotelli. For stretches, Italy looks like a dangerous attacking side, capable of making good on chances from all over the pitch.

Balotelli proved that when he came off the bench to hit a beautiful volley in their last match, putting an exclamation mark on a 2-0 win over Ireland. Now, many are calling for Azzurri coach Cesare Prandelli to keep Balotelli in the starting 11 against England.

Midfielder Andrea Pirlo, Italy’s attacking mastermind, called his performance against Ireland “one of my worst performances from an individual level” and the club will need him to break down England’s defense.

Tactics and lineups

England will likely stick with the 4-4-2 formation that worked against Ukraine, with Rooney playing just behind Welbeck. However, Roy Hodgson won’t hesitate to split up his Man U strikers and bring on Carroll if they struggle to connect early.

Possible lineup: Hart, Johnson, Lescott, Terry, Cole, Parker, Gerrard, Milner, Young, Rooney, Welbeck.

Questions also remain about Italy’s formation. Prandelli switched from a 3-5-2 to a 4-3-1-2 before the Ireland match and may stick with what earned his side three points – especially with England’s attack constantly swinging long crosses into the box. Midfielder Thiago Motta is a fitness concern and could be replaced by Alessandro Diamanti, Riccardo Montolivo or Antonio Nocerino. Leonardo Bonucci will be back to replace the injured Chiellini.

Possible lineup: Buffon, Abate, Barzagli, Bonucci, Balzaretti, Pirlo, Marchisio, Thiago Motta, De Rossi, Balotelli, Cassano

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