England vs Italy

A lot of factors in this game point towards a draw. Its probably one of the closest encounters of all the opening round matches. England look a better team since they met in the Euros when it ended 0-0 after 90 minutes, and Italy look reasonably similar. There are still question marks over certain positions in both sides – England’s left and right, with the options of Welbeck, Sterling and Lallana. Then Italy have to decide between a previously favoured Balotelli and a very much in-form Ciro Immobile, with other attacking players hanging on the fringe of the starting lineup such as Insigne, Candreva and Cerci. Its pretty difficult to separate the sides, and a draw is relatively low @2/1. I would lean towards a 1-1 @9/2, but even that isn’t terrific value.

With such a tight game, but both teams having the ability to go forward and score goals, I think there is real value in the halftime/fulltime market here. England ht/draw ft @18/1 would be my pick, but the opposite of Italy/Draw is the same price and also pretty good value. I would say that the first goal in this game is crucial – more so than normal. If Italy score first then it will be incredibly difficult for England to chase the game and come back. However, if England score first, its unlikely to open the game up too much but Italy will still want to commit more men forward as time goes on.

De Rossi will seemingly be the key man in this with his disciplined approach to positioning – will he move back into the back four at times, or will the tempo of the game allow him to drag himself up the pitch more. Either way, due to his role, De Rossi first player carded @12/1 is a good outside bet. Its then up to England to use their pace and try and get the transition between midfield and attack into flow, at which point Sturridge will probably be drifting in from the left and running at De Sciglio who is 16/1 to be carded first, however it might not be De Sciglio who plays left-back so its a good idea to wait for the team sheets.

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