Don't fear England? Italy's shock draw may mean Balotelli and co are about to eat their words

Italy Azzuri

A former Mansfield Town defender scored against Italy give minnows Luxembourg a 1-1 draw in Perugia yesterday.

Recent comments to appear in the press from the Italian World Cup camp seemed to indicate a strong self confidence in the Azzuri's ability to deal with the English in the opener between the two sides on June 14th.

Well if recent results are anything to go by, it is Roy Hodgson's men who have little to fear from the World Cup opener.

Last night in Perugia Italy, amazingly, could only manage a 1-1 draw with Luxembourg , a team ranked 120th in the world. This came days after a 0-0 draw with the Republic of Ireland. Neither being the kind of result a team with aspirations for World Cup glory would achieve.

Italy conceded a late goal after former Mansfield Town defender Maxime Chanot scored from a corner, drawing level with Claudio Marchisio's early opener. Azzuri fans may argue that it was an experimental side, and that their team were never really under pressure, but their English rivals are likely to counter with the fact that the side England put out against Ecuador last night was even more makeshift.

It certainly sets up the game on June 14th that little bit more.

Earlier in May, PSG midfielder Thiago Motta seemed to indicate that England had just the one decent player, saying: "I think that we (Italy) know that if we keep Rooney quiet in the opening game against England then we will get the result that we want - the problem is England look at him for everything."

Clearly Motta wasn't paying attention to the way Liverpool's outstanding attacking football set the Premier League alight last season, with England men Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson all impressive.

Then in the last week, former Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli said: "they [England] have some good players, but they are no real rivals for Italy."

Italy manager Cesare Prandelli even revealed that "he wouldn't take any players" from England in the Italy squad, while captain Gianluigi Buffon said: "Italy are the team who can think about going the furthest compared with England and Uruguay."

All coming in May, and all fairly dismissive of England's ability to threaten Italy.

But after last night's embarrassing draw at home to Luxembourg, the Italian camp may just be a little more nervous about the prospect of facing Rooney, Gerrard, Sturridge and co than they were last month.

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