Preparation is everything in football and Italy’s hasn’t been the greatest heading into the World Cup in Brazil. They had failed to win a full international game in 2014, players are dipping in and out of form and stopping the opposition from scoring seems to be a problem. They say fail to prepare and prepare to fail, therefore with Italy’s poor preparation going into the World Cup means England should really beat Italy in Mannus on Saturday, qualify for the knockout phase and the Italians should go home early. That’s completely wrong. Underestimating the Azzuri is very naive no matter how bad there form is going into a tournament, time and time again they’ve shown that they are the ultimate tournament side. They know how to win at the big tournaments, conceding goals stops and they somehow always find a way to score when it matters. Something about tournaments brings the Italian national team to life and history suggest Cesare Prandelli shouldn’t be to worried about his side’s form.
The European Championships in 2012 is a prime example, Italy lost to the United States at home before being embarrassed by Russia losing 3-0 in the last warm up game before the tournament. The Azzuri went on to be finalist beating tournament favourites Germany in the semi-final, before losing to Spain in the final. Although there tournament in Africa in 2010, could go down as possibly their most embarrassing competition in history. Finishing bottom of a group that contained the likes of New Zealand, Slovakia and Paraguay, they did win the World Cup only four years earlier. In 2006 the Italians failed to win their last two games before the World Cup and had been plagued with negativity after the Seria A scandal. Yet Marcello Lippi and his team managed to beat the odds and win there four World Cup and first since 1982. Italy will always be a threat and after such poor form heading into the World Cup, qualification from a group that involves Uruguay and England shouldn’t be a shock. Our preparation according to Roy Hodgson has been ”excellent”, after two draws against Ecuador and Honduras. But Hodgson will know better than any that in the World Cup it’s how you perform on the day, judges how well we’ve prepared. With Italy’s track record, the Azzuri not winning any games in 2014 will not affect how they play in Mannus on the 14th of June. They will be ready, focused and of course tactically aware, I just hope we are cause it will be a very difficult game in those conditions.