Kick Off: Wednesday 15th August
Live on TV: ITV1 8.00pm
England head into their final match before the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign begins with a trip to Moldova early next month, in a re-run of their last game at Euro 2012 that ended in the inevitable yet heartbreaking defeat on penalties.
The newly-crowned 3rd seeds of World football take on Italy just as they did in the quarter finals this summer, where 120 minutes of nail-biting action couldn’t separate the two nations and we were once again dispatched from 12 yards emphatically.
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So, what’s new this time round? Well, there’s a few new faces, with Manchester United and recently Team GB star Tom Cleverley finally set to make his senior England bow after a torrid time with injuries last year.
There’s also a recall for his team-mate Michael Carrick, who seemingly missed out on a place for Poland and Ukraine of his own accord, and left Woy Hodgson scratching his head as he ran out of centre midfielders and ideas to thwart the impressive Azzurri led by lead puppeteer and midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo.
So, after being on the back end of one of the most one-sided and thumping 0-0 defeat for quite some time, how has it come about that England dare enter this friendly played in a neutral country (Bern, the Swiss Capital hosts Wednesday night’s game) as favourites with each and every bookmaker?
A look at the team news gives punters a very large indication of what exactly the bookies are getting at.
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has included no fewer than 9 uncapped players in his largely inexperienced and experimental squad, with key omissions such as Giorgio Chiellini who held the backline superbly for the Italians this summer. Up front they are without key flair players such as Fabio Borini, the infamous super Mario Balotelli as well as Di Natale, Cassano and Giovinco.
Probably the name that England and Roy Hodgson would have been most pleased to have seen also not selected was that of Andrea Pirlo who allegedly still hasn’t returned the matchball from that fateful day in Kiev.
England haven’t exactly been shy with their changes either but Roy and his staff have included the vast majority of those involved over the summer, along with blooding a few promising youngsters in what can only be described as a semi-serious match for the Three Lions.
Despite missing Rooney, Terry and Gerrard in the spine of the side, Betfred make them 6/4 favourites for the tie, with Italy at 9/5 and 9/4 is available for another stalemate between these two.
Of course due to the questionable competitiveness of this match it is advisable to keep any stakes you decide to wager at a minimum, with an air of mystery surrounding the seriousness that will be taken by both teams especially as the new domestic season will be literally hours away by full time on Wednesday evening.
However I’d be tempted to agree with the bookies logic here, at least with the draw no bet insurance that places England at 8/11.
England v Italy Odds
- England 6/4
- Draw 9/4
- Italy 9/5
- England 1-0 – 13/2
- Italy 1-0 – 13/2
- Draw 0-0 – 7/1
- England 2-1 – 9/1
- Draw 1-1 – 5/1
- Andy Carroll 7/1
- Jermain Defoe 7/1
- Ashley Young 9/1
- Manolo Gabbiadini 7/1
- Theo Walcott 10/1
- Antonio Nocerino 10/1
- others on request