The England v Italy fixture doesn’t contain the emotional baggage or history that other rivalries do for both teams, but there is enough cultural dissonance to make this as much about bragging rights and prestige as it is about getting the three points and moving one step closer to qualifying from an extremely difficult World Cup group.
As Gerrard has said – it’s time to walk the walk against Italy – all the build-up, the carefully monitored physical conditioning, the video analysis, Neville’s tactics – everything will boil down to 90 minutes of effort on Saturday night.
Liverpool provide a strong, attacking spine to England’s squad and the Liverpool contingent will be critical in determining England’s progress in the World Cup.
The bookies have England at long odds to beat Italy (or even progress from the group), but we are sentimentalists at heart, and we think there’s a good chance that England can cause an upset tonight.
Plus this is the World Cup, and EmpireOfTheKop is a part of the bwin World Cup blogger’s league, and we think there’s more money to be made backing the underdog tonight than the Italians.
Luckily if we get this wrong, there’s still plenty of World Cup action to recover – unlike England, who must get a result tonight.
EmpireOfTheKop’s England v Italy Betting Tips
England skipper Steven Gerrard scored 13 goals last season for Liverpool. Fancy him scoring anytime for England against Italy?
England v Italy will be a tactical, cagey midfield battle – England have promised that they will take care of the ball better, but don’t expect a Spain like performance in midfield from either side (after last night that may be a blessing). The game – considering the two teams – may well be decided by set-pieces (read as free-kicks and penalties).
Last season, Gerrard scored 13 goals for Liverpool, and 10 of those came from the spot. Should England manage to earn any penalty/free kicks in danger zones, back Gerrard to slot home with ease.
These are good odds on the Liverpool striker being England’s top scorer at the World Cup (knockouts or no knockouts). Sturridge, who scored 21 goals in the league last season, is expected to feature regularly as a lone striker for the Three Lions. He will be expected to replicate his Liverpool form in Brazil but a lot will depend on the quality of service provided by his teammates.
Bonus Uruguay v Costa Rica tip
With Luis Suarez aiming for a full return from injury against England on June 19, the goal-scoring burden for Uruguay is likely to fall on Edinson Cavani. With Costa Rica as opponents, there’s a good chance Cavani (and Uruguay) will run riot and set a marker showcasing their high expectations from this World Cup.
We’re backing Cavani to score at least two goals today – but if you’re more cautious back him to score the first goal (3.5) instead.
bwin World Cup Blogger’s League
We are taking part in the bwin World Cup Blogger’s League, a betting competition between top football sites, to follow our progress head to www.bwinbetting.com.
All of the odds included are sourced from bwin.com and you can find more on bwin’s World Cup offering, including Double/Treble returns, here.