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Friday June 13 2014
A tale of two Coaches

Ahead of Saturday’s crucial World Cup encounter between Italy and England, Richard Thomas assesses why both Coaches desperately need a win.

When Italy and England clash on Saturday in Manaus it won’t just be the meeting of two proud European footballing nations desperate to hit the ground running in World Cup Group D. For Cesare Prandelli and Roy Hodgson, the encounter at Arena Amazonia represents the sort of test both Coaches will be required to win in order to silence their long-term detractors.

With the hour of reckoning approaching, there seems to be an unmistakable air of acceptance around both countries that it is a question of when rather than if the Azzurri and Three Lions fall short in their pursuit of glory.

“At the start of every tournament there is always pessimism in Italy, that’s how we are,” Prandelli said of the scepticism back home earlier this week. “Maybe psychologically we need this feeling of insecurity and criticism. I am calm because we have worked well.”

There are a few reasons for the mixed feelings about Prandelli’s team. The Azzurri are, of course, on a seven-match winless streak in international matches, having looked decidedly average in two of their recent three friendlies against Republic of Ireland and Luxembourg. Sunday’s 5-3 win over Brazilian club side Fluminense was welcome, but the three matches as a whole have raised more questions than answers as to how Italy will line-up against England, with several formations and combinations having been trialled.

“If you haven’t worked them out, it shows we are on the right track,” Prandelli told journalists. “We don’t want anyone to understand anything.” While the aim of the former Fiorentina boss’ experimentation is clearly to keep Hodgson second-guessing the make-up of his team until the latest possible moment, it is a strategy that will backfire badly should the Azzurri fail in Manaus.

“Modern teams should have two or three ways to play and, from time to time, in consideration of the opponent, you must take the appropriate solutions,” World Cup winning tactician Marcello Lippi said in support of Prandelli’s methods. Should Italy lose to the Three Lions on Saturday, however, the 56-year-old will be accused of over-complicating his plans when his focus would have been better served establishing a settled starting XI and formation.

If it remains unclear as to how the Azzurri will line-up in Manaus, Hodgson is almost certain to go with the staple 4-2-3-1 that got England through qualifying. The 66-year-old has presided over a characteristically calm and low-key build-up to England’s arrival in Brazil and, on a personal level, the match against the Italians and World Cup campaign as a whole represents a shot at redemption in the big time.

Spells at the two biggest club jobs he landed – Inter and Liverpool – both ended in disappointment, at Anfield spectacularly so, meaning that he has never been held in as high acclaim in his homeland as he has in the likes of Scandinavia and Switzerland, where he tasted success. In England, the general consensus of Hodgson is that he is a Coach of caution rather than flamboyance, and of substance rather than style.

With the usual stratospheric levels of expectation results-wise surrounding the Three Lions at major tournaments absent this time around, one thing that will be required of Hodgson will be to demonstrate a proactive, forward thinking approach. With an influx of bright, young talent at his disposal, England will be expected to show more ambition than in their backs-to-the-wall effort against the Azzurri at Euro 2012. Much of their chances of doing so will depend on their ability to prevent Andrea Pirlo exerting the same level of dominance he did on that night in Kiev, when the Three Lions were chasing shadows for long spells. A repeat performance of attacking ineptitude and the wrong result at the end of it would not be good news for Hodgson.

Though the match in Manaus is not quite do or die for Prandelli and Hodgson, victory for either would go a long way to silencing their respective doubters for the time being at least. A draw would not be viewed as disastrous, but with both sides harbouring weaknesses the other will feel they can prey upon, the opportunity is there for one of Italy and England to make a real statement on Saturday. Both Coaches will be hoping the only heat they will be feeling on Sunday morning is the one in the Amazon air.

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Have your say...
Italy 2, England 1.

As usual, if ball is not passed to Balo's head or big toe, he will NOT score.

Sirigu MUST play for rest of the tournament. Fantastic performance tonight. I have a suspicion they are planning to keep Gigi out by using the excuse of Gigi's injury. They can't simply cut Buffon out after a long and great career. He will miss match vs. Costa Rica. Hope so.

Squad was slow, shaky, defensively poor, but later on midfield looked sharper. First match, but not enough teeth...
on the 15th June, 2014 at 2:03am
ITALIAAAAAAAAA!
on the 15th June, 2014 at 1:06am
@Jenkins
I share your sentiments, both with the Holland-Spain game and the Italy-England one.
on the 14th June, 2014 at 2:46pm
i think we are better than england.in terms of quality&experiance.it is interesting to watch pirlo&vetratti together.but i have doubt about mario. because he is not in his best form&CT planing a lone striker system.i would likr to see cassano or cerci to pair with balo.it will give cofidence &more relax to mario.candreva is verry good athlete but iam not sure for his supporting role.
CT to use 4:1:3:2 system or if he planning wing attack cerci&insigne is essential
on the 14th June, 2014 at 6:09am
Buffon


Abate - Barzagli - Chiellini - Darmian


Pirlo


Marchisio - Verratti - DeRossi


Balotelli - Immobile


Sorry for DeSciglio.... I think this is a powerful Line Up.... Later Marchisio can be substituted by Candreva. Immobile or Balotelli with Cassano.
on the 14th June, 2014 at 5:58am
I don't think we should worry about the heat and humidity. Forecast is 82 and about 65% humidity. In Florida for example in August it is worse than that and they have prepared well anyway. Now if he can only get the formation and tactics down.
on the 14th June, 2014 at 2:50am
What a glorious and joyful day if you're a football fan.
Spain beaten to a bloody pulp by the Dutch. Anyone else spend the afternoon jumping up and down in ecstasy?

I wish for us to do something like that to England tomorrow. Let's go guys, smash them.
on the 14th June, 2014 at 2:47am
Forza Italia, but i fear.

England seeming very strong with many fast and young player. Balotelli is known in England and they can control him, Pirlo is aging now and we will miss Montolivo.

I will happy accepting the draw, a loose would be disaster likely.
on the 14th June, 2014 at 2:07am
Don't worry guys Prandelli always gets it right tactically , I just hope he rotates the squad a bit more to prevent injury like the 2012 final, dismantled Spain in the semis of for cup!!! Friendly matcha mean nothing, prandelli is an intelligent guy and knows results in friendlys mean nothing, there for a coach to try new things and find out what's right and wrong, coaches that go to friendlys only looking for results learn nothing really, I have full faith
Forza italia !!!!
Ciao
on the 14th June, 2014 at 12:53am
Don't worry guys Prandelli always gets it right tactically , I just hope he rotates the squad a bit more to prevent injury like the 2012 final, dismantled Spain in the semis of for cup!!! Friendly matcha mean nothing, prandelli is an intelligent guy and knows results in friendlys mean nothing, there for a coach to try new things and find out what's right and wrong, coaches that go to friendlys only looking for results learn nothing really, I have full faith
Forza italia !!!!
Ciao
on the 14th June, 2014 at 12:53am
I'm not feeling confident at all given the conditions in terms of the humidity, the travel and the pitch. I'd take a draw tomorrow or even better a scrappy win. The key thing could be that our next game is against Costa Rica and we have an extra day over England and Uruguay. A draw tomorrow, win against Costa Rica and win or draw against Uruguay might be enough if England and Uruguay drop points. This is going to be very tight.
on the 13th June, 2014 at 4:30pm
The juventus players should know that you cant make any mistakes at the grop stages and to get the points when they are up for grabs. Do or die. We dont want to be at that particlar position.
on the 13th June, 2014 at 4:02pm
In terms of getting out of the group I'm starting to think a win is the only result that will do. Costa Rica is the classic 'second match' opponent that we seem to struggle with during big tournaments and can easily see a draw in that match. That will leave Uruguay who we know will give us a tough time upfront, and again it's easily conceivable that we see a draw in this match. This is without mentioning the humidity that we'll find in each, so here's to hoping that CP has got his plans right.
on the 13th June, 2014 at 2:54pm
Hopefully there are no refs ruining this game as we've already seen. I think that if both teams play to the best of their ability the Azzurri will come out on top.

Let's go boys!!!!
on the 13th June, 2014 at 2:09pm

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