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2014 World Cup Matchday: England v Italy

Two years it took Italy a set of PKs to dispatch a resilient England squad.

For me this Italy team asks more questions than it answers.  What is the formation? Who is in the back four? Can Mario Balotelli keep his cool? Can Balotelli be the lone striker?  Can Italy start a World Cup with a win like it did in '06 en route to the Trophy are will we get the slows start we are all more used to?  A loss in 94, a draw in 98 and the last five World Cup opening matches Italy has taken 8 of the 15 points.

Today will be rough, the game is late, the field is artificially painted green and the humidity will be oppressive.  It will impact both teams but the pace of the will be a bit more measure which will favor Italy keeping England's "tenacity" on the wings at bay.  For those still puzzled on what Prandelli will do, England is a bit more of an open book.  Some websites will claim England will roll out the en vogue far to overused and not the best for every team 4-2-3-1.  The reality is England is playing some variation of a 4-4-2, in this case a 4-4-1-1 where Wayne Rooney is a bit behind the out and out striker of Hodgson's choosing.  Daniel Sturridge?  This is why I personally Prandelli will stick with the 3-5-2 and have disciplined wing backs to cope with England on the wings while be able to easily fluster the two strikers and lack of a true attacking midfield presence out of England.  But I expect Hodgson has a plan for Andrea Pirlo be it Jordan Henderson or maybe Jack Wilshere.

At the end of the day I don't feel this Italy team has the chemistry and cohesion to win the World Cup.  I also don't feel like Prandelli has the tactical acumen to make this happen either.  His misdirection regarding the formation this week is less about hiding it and more about not having any idea what to do with this team that is rich in certain areas and lost in others.  Granted, I said the same in 2006 about the caliber of the squad, but I had a bit admiration for the cagey Lippi who knew how to roll up his sleeves and win.  However, that team was also playing for something bigger than themselves a pride that no Italian team has ever had before or since.

Enjoy the match today and a very happy early Father's Day to my Dad and to all the fathers who visit the blog!