Italy defender Abate is scared of England, picks out Rooney and Gerrard

Italy players 2009 Friendly

AC Milan defender Ignazio Abate has warned his teammates that England are the tournament's dark horses and are not to be underestimated.

The defender has echoed the sentiments of Italy's vice-captain, Giorgio Chiellini who praised England, especially their Liverpool players when speaking to The Guardian.

Abate feels England have come a long way under Roy Hodgson since they lost to Italy on penalties at Euro 2012 and feels they could be the tournament's surprise package. 

“England have changed a lot, they have created a good mix and they could be the revelation of this World Cup,” said the Italian right-back. “It will be a very difficult match, but I am convinced we will arrive in the best physical and mental condition. I think we need to erase what has been done previously and start again with great humility.

Chiellini agrees with Abate that England have improved especially with the additions of Liverpool's hong crop including Daniel Sturridge, Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling. 

“In Kiev, we played one of the best matches we have played,” Chiellini said. “Over these two years, we have both teams changed, we are rejuvenated, but I think the identity remains the same.

“They have brought a group on, a Liverpool contingent, who have done very well. Maybe as individuals they have changed more compared to us, but their way of playing remains the same. It will be a tough match, they have great individual players like Rooney and Gerrard. Certainly, the weather factor will also be very important."

The two sides both begin their World Cup campaign when meet in Group D on 14th June in Manaus. Despite Hodgson playing down his sides chances, he has seen the level of expectation gradually increase as the tournament edges closer. Encouraged by lively displays in their three World Cup warm up games against Peru, Ecuador and Honduras, England are causing quite a stir  thanks to their exciting young players. 

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