Old foes with new faces to grind it out against England in Turin
Italy kick-started a deflating World Cup campaign for England with a Mario Balotelli-sealed 2-1 win in Manaus last June. As Roy Hodgson takes his side to Turin to renew the rivalry, he’ll face a much-changed opponent.
Antonio Conte took over from Cesare Prandelli after last summer’s tournament and the former Juventus boss has overseen a shift in personnel and style since.
Luxury players like Balotelli aren’t afforded much attention, with the 45-year-old coach preferring hard-grafters who value their national-side selection.
Other squad members, such as pass master Andrea Pirlo and midfield terrier Daniele De Rossi are also unavailable through injury leaving a little known gaggle, barring the odd antique piece of furniture, laying in wait for the Three Lions.
Where Prandelli professed possession, Conte craves the high press and that switch to an energetic game plan is yet another reason that the Italy boss is finding life difficult with the Azzurri.
Not that his results indicate it, with the Italians going undefeated in seven games since their World Cup exit, winning five. However, it is a return to pragmatism from the free-flowing football Prandelli provided that has made both fans and media uneasy.
Only two of those seven matches have seen the total number of goals go beyond the 2.5 line. It is 4/7 that their battle with England also fails to reach that mark.
Despite Wayne Rooney’s revelations that England have found an “aggressive streak”, one away game of over 2.5 goals in three since the World Cup suggests they will help that bet land too.
Hodgson himself has a raft of injuries and dropouts working against him in Turin, but is certain to lean on new-found walking stick Harry Kane, who scored with his third touch in international football against Lithuania at Wembley.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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