We’re all singing for erm… Italy!
Since 1958, England have always progressed past the first stage at World Cups (in 10 attempts). However, with the Three Lions finally playing football that is easy on the eye, they still find themselves staring at an early exit from this tournament in Brazil.
All hope is not lost for England fans, though, as, despite Roy Hodgson’s men sitting at the foot of Group D, with ‘nil points’ – a term commonly associated with the country – the odds, in terms of the matches, still work in their favour.
Three Lions fans will change their allegiances to the very nation that narrowly defeated them in the pool opener, Italy. Cesare Prandelli’s assured Azzurri are firmly on the front foot, and are odds-on favourites to top the group at 4/11.
For England, it’s as simple as this; all they need is for Italy to beat Costa Rica in their next match, followed by Uruguay. They are favourites in both those encounters at 1/2 and 8/5 respectively. The Three Lions, of course, have to win their final group game against minnows Costa Rica, where they are odds-on at 4/7 to do so.
Although England can no longer top their pool, and are heavy outsiders at 7/1 with Coral to qualify for the knockout phase, the stats work in their favour.
Italy have faced Uruguay twice in World Cups, unbeaten in both, the most recent being a 2-0 victory at the 1990 finals. Meanwhile, they also saw off Costa Rica in their only meeting with them, in 1994.
As it stands, three countries are on three points, with the Central Americans ahead on goal difference with plus two, with Italy plus one and Uruguay minus one. That means the Azzurri just have to beat their remaining opponents by a single goal, and England win by two or more against Costa Rica… easy!
It seems that the Three Lions will have one ally in the Azzurri camp for sure, but only at a cost. Former Manchester City headline striker Mario Balotelli, who netted the winner against England, in typical fashion, said: “If we beat Costa Rica I want a kiss, obviously on the cheek, from the UK Queen.” It’s an offer they must seriously consider.
With England’s fate nearly completely out of their hands, it’s just a matter of sitting and waiting. However, Spain lost their opening match of the last World Cup, to Switzerland and still went on to lift the trophy, so who’s to say Hodgson and his Lions can’t get to the last 16? So c’mon England, well… Italy!