In one of the best opening matchups of the 2014 World Cup, England and Italy will take the field Saturday afternoon. This is the 25th meeting between the teams, and England has won eight, while seven have resulted in a draw.
England enters this matchup playing well as they haven’t suffered a single defeat in pre-cup matches. However, you can also look at the other side of the coin and say England also shouldn’t have finished in a tie against Ecuador and Horrendous, two of the lower tier teams in the tournament. England is a very emotional and experienced team that is making its 14th World Cup appearance. England also won the World Cup back in 1966. The most dangerous player on England is Wayne Rooney, who has 216 goals in 10 seasons with Manchester United.
Italy is no stranger to World Cup success, as this is their 18th appearance and they have four titles under their belt. However, like England, Italy would have liked to be playing better entering the tournament, as they struggled against both Republic of Ireland and Luxembourg in pre-cup matches. Italy won the World Cup back in 2006 and some of the same players on that team bring much needed experience to this squad. Italy has the potential to be a dangerous team, especially with Mario Balotelli on the team. While wild at times, Balotelli can take over a game whenever he feels and has scored 30 goals in his last two seasons with Milan.
This matchup is going to be highly competitive and could really go either way. I like the over, but I also like Italy and its potential to score quickly and often. The Italians have a little more firepower than England and getting them at plus money makes this bet even better.
I like Italy to pull out the nail biter.