Hodgson Feels England Can Handle Italy Challenge

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  • Roy Hodgson is confident that his England side can contain the likes of Italy's Andrea Pirlo and Mario Balotelli in their opening World Cup 2014 contest much better than they did at Euro 2012.

    England lost by penalties on that occasion in the quarter-finals, Pirlo in particular leaving the Three Lions chasing their tails during the defeat.

    When asked by reporters whether England can prevent the same happening again in the World Cup on 14 June in Manaus, Hodgson said: “What are we going to do this time against Pirlo? First, we’ll play with more energy because we’ll have more energy because it will be the first game in the tournament. We’ll be even more compact than we were in that game.

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    “Of course, against a tiring team [in Euro 2012] and a team that was playing with Pirlo, he had a very, very good game because he’s a very, very good player."

    Hodgson outlined his tactics to return the favour in the trip to Brazil, saying that England need to be more attacking to ask the questions of Italy themselves instead.

    He added: “We’re going to make certain also that Italy have a lot more concern themselves with our attacking play, because one of the problems we had in that game is that we weren’t functioning well as an attacking unit. So Italy had too much of the ball and we were doing too much defending.

    “One of our plans this time is to make certain we do a lot more attacking and that Italy find themselves wondering what they’re going to do about people like Steven Gerrard or Wayne Rooney.”

    Hodgson also commented on Italy's venerable striker Balotelli, saying: ““I’ve not worked with him. I’m not in a position to make any judgement, other than to say the obvious one: He’s a very dangerous player with great qualities, and whenever he plays he will pose problems the opposition will have to deal with.”

    England begin their World Cup 2014 campaign against Italy on 14 June, joined in Group D by Costa Rica and Uruguay. Click here to compare betting odds for England in the 2014 World Cup.

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