The match is being played in Manaus, a town located in the topical jungle in the north of Brazil. Despite a relatively late kick-off the match will be played in heat and humidity but both teams will be unused to playing at the highest level in such conditions.
This match could be pivotal in terms of the section. Uruguay are the favourites to qualify for the next round while Costa Rica are the weakest side of the four. That means only England or Italy can make the next stage so the result of their match will be crucial. Usually a draw would be a good result but there’s so much to be gained by winning this opening match.
The two sides last played a competitive match in the quarter-finals of the 2012 European Championships. The match ended goalless after 90 minutes and was eventually decided by penalties with Italy progressing. However, Italy were by far the best side and dominated possession with Andrea Pirlo particularly influential.
In that match England let Italy control the play by dropping off them in midfield. Pirlo was allowed to create numerous chances for his teammates and in fact a 3-0 win for Italy would have accurately reflected the balance of play. England hardly created a goal scoring chance and did not deserve to win the tie.
In previous tournaments England have struggled against teams they should beat in the early matches. This year they have to be at their best from the first minute and that could work in their favour. England must impose their own style on Italy or they will be out passed which will make it hard to win the match in the conditions.
England tend to play at their best in vital matches. They had to win two matches at home to qualify for Brazil and did so in some style. They are at their best when playing progressive football which they must try to do against Italy. Scoring the first goal will be crucial to the outcome of this match.
The England coach, Roy Hodgson, must be brave and select a side to win this match and not avoid defeat. Taking three points from the match would set England up for the other two group fixtures and a draw against Uruguay might suffice to progress. They should be too strong for Costa Rica in their third and final group match.
Due to the heat England must select young players with the fitness to last the full 90 minutes and still be effective towards the end of the match. Raheem Sterling, Ross Barkley and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are players that should play for England against Italy. In selecting young players Hodgson has the best chance of starting the tournament with a crucial win.