Despite lack of experience, Roy Hodgson has opted for a younger squad, offering plenty of potential and less baggage.

Pressure has been falling on Wayne Rooney, not having scored in eight World Cup appearances, with debate circulating whether this is his last chance to shine at a World Cup.

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It appears promising however that the youngsters such as Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilshere, Sterling, Barkley and Luke Shaw will add enthusiasm and exciting play, with the tempo being controlled coolly by Gerrard.








STAR MAN: Adam Lallana

Interest has to focus on one of the new additions to the squad, with a handful of young players excelling with their Premier League clubs. Adam Lallana is set to make regular appearances this summer.

As Southampton skipper, he helped the Saints finish in eighth. With a preference for the left side of midfield, Lallana has an excellent dribbling ability and can pass the ball well.


For Italy, although Coach Cesare Prandelli has experimented with a range of formations leading up to their opener, starting with a back four seems probable.

What is more certain is that will rely on a centre man in the midfield, possibly Andrea Pirlo, although he could be moved further forward.

Even though the Italians reached the finals of Euro 2012, they only managed to pick up two points from the group stages and failed to advance further in the 2010 World Cup.


STAR MAN: Mario Balotelli

The notorious Balotelli will be a key player, providing his performances echo the 2012 Euros.

As an initial Ghana international, Balotelli was called up to the Italian squad to make his mark in the Under-21’s, after achieving Italian citizenship in 2008.

By 2010, the ex-Man City firebrand had made his name in the senior squad, and was a key goal scorer in the Euros 2012.

Despite a controversial attitude both on and of the pitch, Balotelli is a powerful front-man, likely to cause problems for the opposition defence.


England 19/10 Draw 2/1 Italy 19/10

HEAD TO HEAD: Gerrard v Pirlo

The Northern Echo:

What makes these two players an interesting match up is how much their teams rely on them to control the game from the middle of the park.

With Pirlo announcing that this is likely to be his last international competition, his hard working attitude will ensure he is remembered.

He has a calm demeanour on the pitch and is a key playmaker to progress the ball forward and tormented England in their Euro 2012 meeting.

Up against England’s skipper, Gerrard has been Liverpool’s main man since 1998.

He is the sixth to gain 100 caps for England and alongside his experience, his accurate set pieces and precise through balls mean he is often behind the lead up to goals scored by both his club and country.


England have been named this year as the third most valued squad in the competition. The 23 man squad comes behind Germany and Spain with an estimated value of £550 million. This value is three times more than the Italian squad.