A Few Things You Need To Know Before England v Italy Tonight

Richard Innes, editor of daily football newsletter The Equaliser gives us the facts to drop during tonight's game...


by Richard Innes |
Published on

Usually just an exaggeration for the sake of a quick headline at World Cup time, on this occasion, the phrase ‘Group of Death’ really is true. Every other group at the 2014 World Cup features only one former winner at most… England’s Group D has THREE. Yeah, England were victorious in 1966, but Uruguay have two World Cups under their belts (the first ever in 1930 and the last one in Brazil, in 1950). And as for the Italians? Those greedy bastards have four of the buggers, including 2006, (meaning they have actually won the World Cup in the era of colour TV).

Most teams are nervous as hell when it comes to their first game of a World Cup, which means they go on the defensive and become extra cautious for fear of cocking it all up (England have scored just once in their first game at the last three World Cups). That always makes a draw more likely. Then there’s this: Italy have had more draws (21) than any other team in World Cup history; England have had more 0-0 draws (10) than anyone else. Prepare for something cagey and potentially a little dull.

The man to look out for is Italy’s Andrea Pirlo. Not simply because he is the most classically Roman-looking, handsome devil to walk a World Cup football pitch (immaculate hair, splendid beard), but because his performance will decide the game. He’s old – a fairly majestic 35 – but he is also AWESOME; he can control a match on his own with his passing ability. When these teams last met in a big game (at Euro 2012), he played 131 passes; the most by any England player was 44. Nuff said?

You know about Rooney, Gerrard and the rest – but the most interesting English player at the World Cup is Rickie Lambert. Released by Liverpool as a youngster, at the age of 18 he was working in a beetroot-packing factory. He then spent a LOT of time playing for small, lower league clubs before working his way back up to the Premier League with Southampton. Now, at the age of 32, he’s just been bought by Liverpool (yes, the ones who ditched him as a kid) and is playing at the World Cup. He’ll probably come off the bench tonight and score, the way his luck’s going.

Oh, and one last thing. Italy have an interesting character of their own. Giorgio Chiellini is Italy’s top defender and is known for being, well, a bit ‘tough’. In reality, he’s not quite as thuggish as his footballing style would have us believe: he completed a degree in economics and commerce at the University of Turin in July 2010. Those Italians, eh?

If you want to be kept up to date with all the need-to-know World Cup facts, sign up to TheEqualiser.com here. Follow them on Twitter @TheEqualiserUK

Picture: Getty

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us