England v Italy - Key Battles: Liverpool legend can control the game

Steven Gerrard England

If England hope to succeed against Italy, then Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge will need to overcome Andrea Pirlo and Giorgio Chiellini respectively.

Ciro Immobile v Gary Cahill

Cahill will have to show the kind of hard work and form he delivered for Chelsea this season if he is to keep Immobile out. The Seria A top scorer has pace, good feet and excellent co-ordination when it comes to finishing.

Immobile scored one spectacular goal for Torino this season - the ball floated over the defence and he smashed it home first time on the volley with his weaker foot. This kind of talent means that goals can pop out of nowhere and Cahill will have to be alert.

This will make for an interesting battle and Cahill can’t take his eyes away for one second.

Daniel Sturridge v Giorgio Chiellini

England’s top scorer in the Premier League has everything it takes to become a Three Lions legend at this World Cup. Lightning pace, quick feet and a host of twist and turns to surprise any defender, Sturridge has bags of potential.

Standing in his way will be Serie A champion Chiellini, a towering strong force who will be right at home with fellow Juventus teammate and centre-back, Leonardo Bonucci.

Sturridge will find it hard coming up against Chiellini but having never played against him before, the element of surprise is an advantage Sturridge can use to good effect.

Steven Gerrard v Andrea Pirlo

These two will not be up against each other in terms of cancelling each other out, but it’s a case of who can make the most impact on the game. Both are playing central defensive positions - the anchor role - and will provide balls from deep, over the top, through the middle and out wide.

Pirlo has the ability to stand still and spray out balls to attackers - he is so calm on the ball and oozes maturity and confidence. He is a real danger and no doubt that there will be a specific player assigned to him, but shutting him out will be hard.

Gerrard is no stranger to the big games either and should have enough experience to guide England through. Sitting in front of the back four, Gerrard needs to show that he still has the legs to run and play it calmly through the midfield. He has a big talent for raking balls across the field and Italy will find it hard to shut those down.

This match will no doubt be decided by which one of these two players has the most influence on the proceedings.

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