World Cup Group D tremors mean all’s not lost for brave England
England are now clear 4/5 second-favourites to qualify from World Cup Group D despite losing their opening fixture 2-1 to Italy, with wounded Uruguay up next for the shattered Three Lions in Sao Paulo.
Roy Hodgson’s side came so close to proving their doubters wrong with a highly-spirited display in Manaus, which saw them fire three times as many shots than in their last competitive clash with the Azzurri at Euro 2012 and five times as many on target.
Had Wayne Rooney’s close-range effort gone in on the hour mark for the Manchester United striker’s first World Cup goal, then England would have been confident of seeing out the draw, as the stifling conditions in Amazon country had already begun to have a predictable impact on the pace of the game.
Raheem Sterling, who was England’s most exciting and consistent threat throughout, and Gary Cahill both spent time on the deck with cramp, while goalscorer Daniel Sturridge jogged off gingerly with just over ten minutes to go.
Hodgson’s men were ultimately undone by a typically talented Italian team still graced by Andrea Pirlo, who pinged the ball about wherever he wanted with breath-taking ease and very nearly caught out Joe Hart with a sublime free-kick.
With the 35-year-old Zen-like midfielder leading a promising bunch – which includes match-winner Mario Balotelli and supposed Pirlo protege Marco Verratti – plenty will be hopping onto four-time winners Italy’s 18/1 outright odds, not to mention the 3/10 on them winning the group, which now looks a near certainty.
The shock result of the World Cup so far came in Group D’s opening fixture when lowly Costa Rica downed well-fancied Uruguay, minus the injured Luis Suarez, and the South Americans – who reached the semi-finals four years ago – are now 3/1 outsiders to qualify behind their 6/4 vanquishers.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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