If you look over the different soccer betting sites, you'll see varying lines, but Italy is the favorite at most everywhere. There's not much in it all though, with the Italians at roughly +175 and England available for action at close to +200. A draw is also quoted at +200.
After going undefeated in three warm-up friendlies, fans of the England team may be feeling good about World Cup, but let's not get too carried away. The English did easily top Peru (3-0) at home to kick their preparations off, but they struggled once they made it to Miami. They drew 2-2 to Ecuador, and then tied 0-0 against Honduras three days later. Coming into the World Cup, it's an interesting position that England takes up. Expectations have been dramatically lowered after recent failures at these major tournaments, so it could be said that the English are actually a little under-rated.
There's no shortage of talent, that's for sure. Joe Hart will be in goal, with Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka getting called upon to man the heart of the defense. Steven Gerrard will be the captain, and will add at least a few more caps to his impressive tally of 111. Frank Lampard (105 caps) and Wayne Rooney (92) also provide a wealth of experience to the squad. We're most intrigued by the younger talent, however. Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley, Adam Lallana, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere and even Luke Shaw in the back will have their chances to prove their worth at the biggest stage. Who will make the biggest impact?
The Italians didn't exactly have the best of preparation for the World Cup. They played in two friendlies, and were unable to get a win in either. First, Italy had to settle for a 0-0 draw in what was an entertaining match against Ireland at Craven Cottage. The following week, the Italians again finished at a 1-1 deadlock, this time at home to Luxembourg. Claudio Marchisio scored the goal for the hosts. Surely Cesare Prandelli would have liked to see more out of his squad as they head into an incredibly tough Group D, but at least the manager was able to find out some weaknesses, and try and address them in camp.
Prandelli still has a heck of a squad at his disposal, and the team's vast experience should hold them in good stead. Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is the captain, and has made 140 caps for the international team in his career, while Andrea Pirlo has made 109 appearances for his country. Add in the likes of Mario Balotelli, Daniele De Rossi, Antonio Cassano, Giorgio Chiellini, and Andrea Barzagli among others, and you'll see why Italy should still never be taken lightly. It would be a huge surprise if they didn't do enough to advance out of the group stages.
World Cup Pick
We really can't wait for this showdown. Italy and England may not be the top-tier favorites in this tournament, but they're still big-name countries who could make a splash. The first group stage match is incredibly important for all those involved, and that could lead to some rather conservative tactics. Neither side will want to start their campaign off without a point, so we don't foresee a lot of risks being taken. With that said, we're predicting a draw with our soccer picks for this Group D opener. Enjoy the match!
Free Soccer Pick: England 1 Italy 1