Pitch Concerns in Manaus Ahead of England vs. Italy Clash

Alex LivieFeatured Columnist IVMarch 22, 2017

A groundsman cuts the grass at the 2014 soccer World Cup venue at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil, Wednesday June 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Themba Hadebe/Associated Press

England and Italy face the prospect of opening up their World Cup campaigns on a pitch that hardly looks fit for purpose.

The two European sides will lock horns in their opening game from Group D of the World Cup in Manaus on Saturday.

The lead-up to the game has been dominated by talk of the sapping conditions in the humid air of the Amazon rainforest.

However, pictures have emerged of the surface of the Amazonia Arena, and they make grim viewing.

Even from a distance it doesn't look great. pic.twitter.com/Bxfm6dk2gO

— Matt Hughes (@MattHughesTimes) June 11, 2014

The groundsman responsible for the upkeep of the stadium surface has admitted the pitch is not good and is unlikely to show much improvement between now and when the game kicks off on Saturday.

As reported by Telegraph Sport, Carlos Botella said:

Frankly, Manaus is in bad shape.We’ve started to implement an emergency plan to try to save the field and improve it as much as possible, but I don’t think it’ll be in good condition by the weekend.

Yesterday we put fertilizer, and we’ll increase the fertilizing process with biostimulants and seeds to try to get the most out of the grass.

Feels like a very Fifa irony that the only thing in the Amazon that isn't lush and green is the pitch in Manaus

— Paul Kelso (@pkelso) June 11, 2014

England are set to travel from their Rio base to Manaus on Thursday. It is not clear if the players will get the chance to train on the pitch before the game.

Normal protocol would see the players train on the match surface, but given the state of the pitch it remains to be seen if that will happen.

Following the game with Italy, Roy Hodgson’s England face Uruguay in Sao Paulo on June 19. The Three Lions will conclude their Group D campaign against Costa Rica in Belo Horizonte on June 24.