Search

World Cup Blog: Still hope for England despite Italy defeat

01:12 15 June 2014

England players (top left to right) Daniel Sturridge, Gary Cahill, Joe Hart, Danny Welbeck, Jordan Henderson, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines. (bottom left to right) Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson and Raheem Sterling pose for a team photograph before kick-off in the FIFA World Cup, Group D match at the Arena da Amazonia, Manaus, Brazil.

England players (top left to right) Daniel Sturridge, Gary Cahill, Joe Hart, Danny Welbeck, Jordan Henderson, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines. (bottom left to right) Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson and Raheem Sterling pose for a team photograph before kick-off in the FIFA World Cup, Group D match at the Arena da Amazonia, Manaus, Brazil.

PA Wire/Press Association Images

England 1 Italy 2

England's Daniel Sturridge celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the FIFA World Cup, Group D match at the Arena da Amazonia, Manaus, Brazil.England's Daniel Sturridge celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the FIFA World Cup, Group D match at the Arena da Amazonia, Manaus, Brazil.

England expects is always the shout when the nation goes into a major tournament, only to be hit by reality and misery in equal measure.

This time round, there were few who gave Roy Hodgson’s men a hope, many thought they wouldn’t get out of the group, a sense of sensible proportion seemed to have been added to the England psyche.

That is until the final few days before the first game. TV pundits determined to big up England’s chances were predicting victory over the experienced Italians. The Azzurri never start tournaments well, they are too old and will wilt in the Manaus heat. England have the pace to cause Italy all sorts of problems.

Once again, England were being built up for a fall and with a dreadful record against an Italian side with Andrea Pirlo at its heart, this was always going to be a tough opening fixture.

England manager Roy Hodgson during the FIFA World Cup, Group D match at the Arena da Amazonia, Manaus, Brazil.England manager Roy Hodgson during the FIFA World Cup, Group D match at the Arena da Amazonia, Manaus, Brazil.

There is always hope though, that is the hardest thing sometimes. Armed with my newly acquired Three Lions t-shirt (£8 from Asda!) I was swept along by the confidence of Alan Shearer and Rio Ferdinand on the panel and for a while I believed that we could do it.

I should know better. Having travelled to watch England in Italia ‘90 and France ‘98, I should know not to expect too much, especially early in a tournament.

England certainly looked the part going forward, but at the back it was the same old story as Italy scored from a corner and then a cross to the far post for Mario Balotelli to head home a goal that Andy Carroll would have been proud of.

With Costa Rica having shocked Uruguay earlier in the evening, it was difficult to work out what sort of a result would be most beneficial for England and Italy.

Italy's Mario Balotelli scores his sides second goal during the FIFA World Cup, Group D match at the Arena da Amazonia, Manaus, Brazil.Italy's Mario Balotelli scores his sides second goal during the FIFA World Cup, Group D match at the Arena da Amazonia, Manaus, Brazil.

England started brightly and conjured up more shots in the opening few minutes than they usually manage in an entire match.

Perhaps it was Brazil fever rubbing off on them, but Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Danny Welbeck all went close with shots from range, while Welbeck also muscled his way into the box and squared only to see an Italian defender desperaretely hack the ball away.

But while England looked dangerous, Italy looked cool and composed and with their wing backs having great success down the flanks against the isolated Glen Johnson and Leighton Baines, they were looking capable too.

Just as the game seemed to be slowing, it burst into life with two goals in 90 seconds.

First Claudio Marchisio shot through a crowd of players to beat Joe Hart from the edge of the box, but then Wayne Rooney, largely ineffective to that point, crossed superbly for Daniel Sturridge to finish with aplomb.

Italy hit the post and had another effort headed away from under his own bar by Phil Jagielka, but early in the second half, Balotelli pounced with a header to put the Italians back in front.

Normally, that would be it. An England under Sven would have crumbled, an England under Capello would have settled for a 2-1 defeat, while an England under McLaren wouldn’t have got there in the first place.

But this England battled hard and really had a go.

You certainly couldn’t criticise Hodgson. He picked an attacking team that hurt the Italians and he was equally positive with his substitutions, bringing on young starlets Ross Barkley, Jack Wilshere and Adam Lallana as they tried to salvage a draw their endeavour probably deserved.

Despite his outward appearance and quiet voice, Hodgson is a bold manager, who identifies where his team’s strength lies. It is just a shame that he hasn’t been blessed with a better quality defence to keep things quiet at the other end.

Rooney had one glorious chance, Baines and Barkley saw shots palmed away, Gerrard put a free kick over, but all the time we knew didn’t we? We knew that England would never come back, that Italy would never surrender their lead, they are too exprienced, too canny, too, too Italian.

One game gone and both England and Uruguay are pointless. They meet on Thursday and in reality a draw is not much use to either side, another defeat for either and they will be packing their bags.

On the way the two teams played, England should be favourites to beat their South American opponents, but the propsect of Luis Suarez climbing off the bench to send England home early is one that it is difficult to get out of my head.

Still, let’s stay hopeful. The Three Lions t-shirt will be washed and ready for the next game and the hope will still be there - the hope is always there.

*Harry Kemble will be watching France v Honduras on Sunday. Follow @London24Sport on Twitter and read his blog on this website tomorrow.

Latest Newham Sports News

Yesterday, 09:16

Tons boss excited to test his squad against Ryman South outfit

Essex Senior League
Yesterday, 08:00

Find out what Charlie Grainger, Sammy Moore, Michael Clark, Freddy Moncur, Victor Adeboyejo and Sam Roach have got up to over the past week

Sammy Moore
Wed, 13:17

Bari without a game this weekend ahead of facing Barking next Tuesday

Chris Davis

Hammers legend Tony Cottee wants to see a battling performance at Liverpool on Sunday

Andy Carroll

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read sport

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Competitions

Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more. Boots is the number one choice when it comes to purchasing daily essentials.

Read more

If you’re obsessed with Apple or just love a good gadget, this is a prize that will blow you away! An incredible £3,333 to spend on Apple goodies! How would you like to be the proud new owner of the Apple Watch?

Read more

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Newham Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now