World Cup – England v Italy: Three to Watch

England get their world cup underway on Saturday night (11pm UK time) with a tough assignment against Italy. While the two European sides are amongst the best the footballing world has to offer in addition to having to contend with tactical battles they will have deal with the hot humid temperatures of Manaus.

A rumble in the jungle is sure to ensue as Roy Hodgson and Cesar Prandelli go toe to toe over 90 minutes, tactical acumen will be put to the test and it remains to be seen if the youthful and inexperienced English, marshalled by the veteran Steven Gerrard can overcome the Italians.

While the game boasts a number of big names including Andrea Pirlo, Mario Balotelli, Wayne Rooney and the aforementioned Gerrard the result could be decided by three players that while they have enjoyed stunning domestic seasons’ are relative unknowns on the international stage.

Three players that will shine in the England vs. Italy World Cup clash.

Raheem Sterling
The Liverpool attacker is being tipped to play in the number 10 role for England behind Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge following an injury to Danny Welbeck. The pacey wing man has added strengths and finishing to his game in the last 12 months to progress from raw talented teenager to one of the most gifted youngsters on the planet. The 19 year old scored 9 goals and created 5 more on his way to a season rating of 7.39. While he has improved on his dribbling and finishing, the defensive side of his game has also improved and that will be a bonus to England especially with the deep lying Andrea Pirlo likely be affected by the all action play of the Reds man. The best form of defence is in attack and if England can stop Pirlo dictating play through the youthful and energetic Sterling they will have a good chance of picking up an opening day point or, dare we say it, a win.

Ciro Immobile

The Italian forward staked a late claim for his inclusion ahead of Mario Balotelli when he scored a hat-trick in a 5-3 friendly win over Brazilian club giants Fluminense. Immobile finished last season as top scorer in Serie A with Torino scoring 22 league goals and secured his future before the world cup by agreeing to move to Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund. The 24 year old is in a different mould to the mercurial Balotelli. He is in only in his second year in top level football and is a more direct player than the former Manchester City man however he does possess a selfless work rate and has a good eye for goal. The fact that he will be relatively unknown to England should also play into his hand.

Jordan Henderson

The Liverpool man showed his gut-bursting fitness with a fantastic run and interception in the 0-0 with Honduras and looks nailed on to start alongside his team-mate Gerrard. The former Sunderland man has gone from strength to strength in the last 24 months so much so he is now considered a vital clog in the Reds midfield. That appears to have transcended onto the International stage with Henderson set to cement his place as one of England’s first choice midfielders over the tournament. The boundless energy has been harnessed and controlled meaning that 23 year old has added clever decision making and passing to his game. With Gerrard sitting deep, Henderson along with either Jack Wilshere or Adam Lallana will do the hard work to ensure that the England forwards have the ball and when they don’t make sure it is won back and distributed intelligently.

Trevor is a Dublin based journalist and content writer, having already written a number of sports related books, including Running through Walls, the Dave Langan Story. You can follow Trevor at Google here.

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