England and Italy are getting ready for their first Group D match at the World Cup 2014. Much talk has centered on the Arena Amazonia pitch but the important matchup between the two powerhouses received some last-minute intrigue after Gianluigi Buffon, Italy goalkeeper and captain, was ruled out for the game after suffering an ankle injury. With that in mind, these are the players to watch in the World Cup match between England and Italy.
Players To Watch For England:
The Manchester United striker is a star for his club but can he follow up a successful Euro 2012 with a strong performance at World Cup 2014? Rooney has yet to score a World Cup goal and will be paired with Liverpool forward Daniel Sturridge, who scored 31 goals in the Premier League.
The 19-year-old Liverpool midfielder will start for England, reports the Telegraph. Sterling will make his debut for England and will be driving the attack in the No. 10 role with Danny Wellback playing the left wing and Rooney playing on the right wing in support of Sturridge.
The Manchester City goalkeeper will face pressure from an Italian attack led by Mario Ballotelli. Hart has proven himself to be a reliable keeper and is unlikely to cough up a goal with a blunder that will make England fans throw their hands up in anguish.
Players To Watch For Italy
Even at 35 years of age, Pirlo will cause headaches for England as he orchestrates Italy's attack. England's midfield will have to deal with Pirlo linking up with fellow midfielders Daniel De Rossi and Marco Veratti and pushing Italy's attack forward.
Balotelli is a physical, skilled striker and will be the focal point of Italy's attack. At times, Balotelli can let his emotions dictate his play but he has played great for Italy in the past and will have the chance to shine in Manuas.
With Buffon out, all eyes turn to Sirigu. The Paris St-Germain goalkeeper has served as Buffon's backup during the last World Cup and Euro 2012 but the Guardian says he is good shot-stopper with excellent reflexes.