NEWS
Saturday June 14 2014
Buffon injury scare against England

Gigi Buffon suffered a “slight ankle sprain and is undergoing treatment” ahead of tonight’s World Cup opener against England.

Italy begin their tournament in Manaus at 23.00 UK time (22.00 GMT), but are beset by injury problems.

Last night the Azzurri trained on the Manaus pitch and Juventus shot-stopper Buffon sprained his left ankle.

“He has a slight ankle sprain and is undergoing treatment,” explained Cesare Prandelli.

Professor Enrico Castellacci was less reassuring and said Buffon has “a 50 per cent chance” of starting tonight’s game, as he was seen limping on to the team bus.

There are further concerns, as second choice Salvatore Sirigu did not train for several days this week due to a bruised rib, so the PSG man is not in great shape either.

It is possible Mattia Perin of Genoa might have to play, although Buffon will do everything possible to be there.

The injury in the warm-up raises more questions about the pitch in Manaus, which looked suspiciously green last night compared to only 48 hours earlier.

There are reports the Brazilian authorities might’ve painted the turf green in order to hide the patches and sand beneath the grass.

Mattia De Sciglio was ruled out by a muscular injury on Thursday, so Giorgio Chiellini is moved over to his former role at left-back.

In his place, Cesare Prandelli has been testing Parma defender Paletta alongside Andrea Barzagli, leaving Juventus man Leonardo Bonucci on the bench.

Torino revelation Matteo Darmian is expected to beat Milan’s Ignazio Abate to the right-back slot.

For some time now Prandelli has moved towards a 4-1-4-1 formation with Daniele De Rossi protecting the defence, but above all Marco Verratti and Andrea Pirlo together as dual playmakers.

It is hoped this system will allow the Azzurri to maintain possession and provide other options when England man-mark Pirlo.

Claudio Marchisio and Lazio’s Antonio Candreva are the attacking midfielders who can push up to support striker Mario Balotelli.

Potential substitutes for the second half include Parma veteran Antonio Cassano, Serie A Capocannoniere Ciro Immobile and Napoli’s sparkling Lorenzo Insigne.

Probable line-ups

England: Hart; Johnson, Cahill, Jagielka, Baines; Henderson, Gerrard; Lallana, Rooney, Welbeck; Sturridge

Italy: Buffon (Sirigu); Darmian, Barzagli, Paletta, Chiellini; De Rossi; Candreva, Pirlo, Verratti, Marchisio; Balotelli

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