The English press churned out all of the tired old clichés when their team were drawn in the same group as Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica. Just how correct they were to do so will be seen on Saturday 14th June, when the two big European members of the group square off in Manaus.
Much has been made of the fact that this game will be played in Brazil 2014’s only rainforest venue and it is certainly not the location that either side would’ve picked. The humid conditions, even with a 6pm kick off local time, will favour neither of them and the fact that the stadium is one of the last to be finished has also been of concern.
The truth is, though, that if either of these teams had been good enough to be seeded for this tournament, they would’ve avoided this problem. Realistically, neither is going to win the tournament and either would regard getting to the quarter final as something of a success. Both lack the strength up front to worry the main contenders and neither looks as solid in defence as they should be.
The market makes Italy marginal favourites at 2.55 with BetVictor, whilst Ladbrokes have England at 3.2 and the draw is best priced at 3.4 with Stan James. All of these are remarkably long odds for a three horse race and whilst not generous enough to allow you to stag the market, offer attractive value across the board.
With that in mind, remember that England have never beaten Italy in a major competition. Their best result was in the European Championship of 2012, when they drew 0-0 but lost on penalties. That makes an Italian win the smart bet here, after which you have a range of options in the correct score market, with 2-1 looking a particularly good price at 11.5 with Stan James