Roy Hodgson looking for a winning start in Brazil although Italy will be a tough nut to crack
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England have never been such a big price to win a World Cup, with the bookies offering odds of 33/1 about the Three Lions claiming victory in this tournament for a second time, although there are reasons to be optimistic ahead of their curtain-raiser against the Azzurri.
Roy Hodgson has taken the bold step to include several young players who are unproven at international level, with Luke Shaw and Raheem Sterling nowhere near the potential 23 a year ago, although the likes of Ashley Cole and Michael Carrick have been left out at their expense.
Whether Hodgson makes the even bolder move if selecting Sterling, Adam Lallana and Ross Barkley for the Italy game on 14 June is another matter, with the Azzurri being the team that knocked England out of Euro 2012 on penalties.
Winner bookmaker offer odds of 21/10 about an England win, with Wayne Rooney currently working on being as fit as possible after an injury-affected campaign, while Hodgson mulls over whether to inject the team with Sterling’s pace or instead go for the pragmatic approach with James Milner.
Italy have named a 30-man provisional squad for the World Cup which will be trimmed down to 23, including the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Mario Balotelli and Thiago Motta. Pirlo continues to be the player to make this team tick and England have already identified him as the danger man.
Cesare Prandelli certainly won’t be playing for a draw in Manaus. He knows that three points on the board in this game should mean certain qualification considering that Costa Rica will be up next before the Azzurri face Uruguay in the last group game.
“It will be important to take three points from our first game and in the process beat a strong team,” said Prandelli
Ladbrokes go 6/4 about Italy claiming a maximum haul which would mean England’s backs are against the wall going into their second match against Uruguay, although we can probably expect this to be a tight encounter.
The bookies are forecasting a low-scoring match, with Winner offering 9/20 about Under 2.5 Goals and it’s a match which the two teams will be more afraid of losing rather than going all out to win.
Coral offer a top price 6/1 about No Goalscorer in the First Goalscorer market and that price might get even shorter if Hodgson decides to deploy Milner alongside Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson, while Danny Welbeck could be the runner in the left-wing position rather than Daniel Sturridge.