England Preview v Italy (Manaus)
England's world cup bid gets underway this weekend with an opener against Italy in the Arena Amazonia in Manaus on Saturday night, 11pm our time.
Much has been made of the heat, which will of course be a problem, but then again so will it for the Italians. Granted they have more familiarity with the heat than we do but it will be no walk in the park for them.
We know for sure that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will miss out, his injury will sideline him until the Uruguay game but his involvement in the world cup itself was not ever 'seriously' under threat it appears.
Danny Welbeck looked doubtful earlier in the week but has been training and should be fit, which if he id he will probably start meaning that Raheem Sterling's involvement will come from the bench, as could Ross Barkley - both of whom, I feel as do many others, could make a real difference against a tiring Italian defence more so perhaps?
Italy defender Mattia De Sciglio was injured in training this week and sent to hospital to have an MRI on his thigh, which confirmed a muscle strain. He could have been replaced by stand-by option Andrea Ranocchia but at this stage it is unlikely he will.
Marco Verratti - flu - has recovered so at this point, De Sciglio aside, the Italians have a full compliment to select from.
England 'do not need to win' is the message from many pundits, but I think we would all agree that defeat is not really an option - I genuinely do think that we can win this and what a marker, and statement of intent it will put down, if we can get all 3pts.
It will be a 'cat and mouse' game, but with some exciting options to turn to from the bench - if they do not start - we could well have the extra legs to catch out the Italians as the 90-minutes goes by.
We MUST defend well with it essential to retain possession, if we are chasing the ball due to be careless we will find it hard to keep our heads above water and will be the side 'treading water' as the game goes on...
I am quietly confident and optimist, lets hope come 1am I will not be crying into my beer!
Come on England!
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