Italy had a terrible 2010 World Cup, but surprised many with a march to the semifinals of Euro 2012, where they defeated Saturday’s opening-round opponent.
Italy sent England packing in 2012 and beat them in the 1990 World Cup as well, although they are just slight favorites to beat the Three Lions in Brazil.
Sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com had World Cup odds for this match with Italy at 7-4 and England close behind at 2-1. The draw line was also 2-1 as of midday Friday.
Andrea Pirlo is the leader of the midfield for Italy and that is the strength of the squad. However, while they out-match many other squads in that area of the pitch, England also has a solid midfield led by long-time captain Steven Gerrard.
England has had defensive issues for the last few World Cups. While that may be the case this time around as well, their offense is a good one led by stars Daniel Sturridge and Wayne Rooney.
Keeper Gianluigi Buffon and defender Giorgio Chiellini lead the Italy defense but can they maintain a clean sheet facing England?
Italy have not looked good in their last three World Cup tune-ups this year with a 1-0 loss to Spain, a scoreless draw against Ireland and a 1-1 draw with Luxembourg.
Mario Balotelli is a great striker for Italy and a very mercurial one who can be taken off his game by physical play. That is a good sign for England, who play that style with many of their national players in the Premier League.
With Uruguay also near the top of Group D betting odds, it’s imperative for both teams to play well here. The loser will be in danger of an early exit from Brazil.
England keeper Joe Hart has a lot of pressure piled upon him in this World Cup, as play in goal has been an issue for the squad for a long time. He did get benched for a spell during the EPL season with Manchester City.
But the club won the league title this season and Hart played much better towards the end of the campaign and will do so again facing Italy.
Italy should not be able to dominate possession and their defense will be tested by Rooney and company. Both squads, obviously, want to get off to a good start in this World Cup, but a goalless draw or a 1-1 outcome is the likely scenario in this Group D encounter.
England vs. Italy Prediction: 1-1 draw
Odds, stats courtesy of World Cup Odds.