England v Italy
England started off their world cup campaign with a 2-1 loss against Italy in Manaus.
- England (4-2-3-1): Hart, Johnson, Cahill, Jagielka, Baines, Gerrard, Henderson (Wilshere 73′), Welbeck (Barkley 61′), Sterling, Rooney, Sturridge (Lallana 80′)
- Scorers: Sturridge 37′
- Italy (4-3-3): Sirigu, Darmian, Paletta, Barzagli, Chiellini, Verratti (Motta 57′), Pirlo, De Rossi, Candreva (Parolo 79′), Marchisio, Balotelli (Immobile 73′)
- Scorers: Marchisio 35′; Balotelli 50′
With Costa Rica pulling off a surprise result and beating Uruguay, it gave all England fans a great sign of hope that they would be able to get out of their tough group. This new belief that England have a great chance of qualifying, if not win the group was shown by the players as they started the game with intent. Just after 3 minutes into the game Liverpool youngster Raheem Sterling hit a rocket of a shot that flew into the side netting from 25 yards out, and from the angle it was original shown a whole lot of England fans thought they had witnessed one of the country’s finest goals in world cup history. Although it didn’t go in England gained a huge boost in confidence and really took the game to the Italians. After 24 minutes Welbeck made a bursting run into the box and if it weren’t for a poor cross England would have took the lead as Sturridge just couldn’t get on the end of it.
However playing against a side of the calibre of Italy it was always inevitable that they would get themselves into the game, and in the 35 minute England were caught out by a short corner and after playing a pass to Marchisio, in which Pirlo gracefully dummied over the ball, the Italian smashed in a shot from 20 yards out.
Despite this crucial blow to England, the three lions responded positively and just 2 minutes later Sterling played Rooney through for him to delightfully cross the ball into Sturridge’s path for the England no.9 to tap in from a few yards out. Game on.
In the end England were lucky to go in level at half-time as Balotelli managed to beat the offside trap and he took the ball away from the onrushing Joe Hart and then attempted an audacious chip that was destined to go in, if it were not for Jagielka to clear of the line. This was then followed by yet another attack as Marchisio found Candreva in the box, but the Italian could only hit the post, England had been let of the hook.
The second half saw Italy take the lead as Candreva easily sold Baines with the fake cross before whipping one into the back post for Balotelli to pounce and knock in from 5 yards out, a poor goal to concede that highlighted England’s vulnerability down that right had side. After this England only created one major chance, Rooney got on the end of a Baines pass but the Manchester United man could only fire wide. The closet anyway came to scoring after this was Andrea Pirlo, the regista struck the ball beautifully from 25 yards out, and with Hart being rooted to the spot if it weren’t for the bar it would have been 3-1.
Overall England showed they had potential when attacking but Rooney was stagnant and so was the defence at times, but with the next match against a Uruguayan side that looked incredibly poor last game England could still make the knock-out rounds.
Man of the match: Antonio Candreva
Japan V Ivory Coast
The late kick off in Matchday 3 saw Ivory Coast take all 3 points against the Japanese in Group C’s second game of the day.
- Japan (4-2-3-1): Kawashima, Uchida, Yoshida, Morishige, Nagatomo, Yamaguchi, Hasebe ( Endo 54′), Okazaki, Honda, Kagawa (Kakitani 86′), Osak0 (Okubo 67′)
- Scorers: Honda 16′
- Ivory Coast (4-3-3): Barry, Aurier, Zokora, Bamba, Boka (Djakpa 75′), Tiote, Serey Die (Drogba 62′), Toure, Kalou, Gervinho, Bony (Ya Konan 78′)
- Scorers: Bony 64′, Gervinho 66′
The last time Japan visited the Arena Pernambuco in Recife was for their thrilling 4-3 defeat at the hands of Italy during the Confederations Cup roughly a year ago. Coming in to this game both teams had high hopes to make it past the group stage, something Ivory Coast had never done and with Japan hoping to repeat their success in South Africa it looked to be a tight affair straight from the off.
The game started brightly with both teams showing their attacking intent, while Les Éléphants had more of the possession it was Japan who looked more decisive with the ball and in just the 16th minute of the game they struck. A quick throw-in saw Nagatomo play the ball to the feet of Keisuke Honda who took and excellent touch and rifled in with his mighty left foot. Not long after some excellent foot work from Uchida saw him in front of goal where instead of squaring it to Kagawa went for glory with his weaker foot and gave Barry a simple save. Both teams had other notable chances but it was the Ivorians that had more of the chances and Japan were set up perfectly well to deal with the attacking threat the African team possessed. Strong first half performances from defensive pairing Morishige and Yoshida meant that Japan, while on the back foot a lot, looked comfortable going in to the second half.
There was a degree of frustration for Ivory Coast with big name forwards like Solomon Kalou and Wilfried Bony both missing chances and star player Yaya Toure looking rather subdued for a lot of the match. As the clock hit the 62nd minute Didier Drogba was called to the sideline and a round of applause rippled through the stadium, coming on for Serey Die the presence of the Ivorian legend seemed to lift the spirits of the rest of the team. And just 2 minutes later Ivory Coast had a goal, a cross from Serge Aurier curled in to the box and found the head of Bony who had in fact been billed by many as the new Drogba. At this point there were worried looks on all of the Japan players faces and in another 2 minutes Kawashima was picking the ball out of his net again. Aurier once more was picked out on the right side of the pitch and under no pressure from Nagatomo and delivered another ball to Gervinho whose header went clumsily through the hands of the 31-year-old Japanese goalkeeper. From here on out was a downwards spiral for the Samurai Blue, Japan looked hopeless on the ball and were being bossed around by a much more physical African team. A tactical change from Sabri Lamouchi saw Ivory Coast playing with 3 at the back, throwing as many players forward as they could to search for another goal. Japan seemed to fade away until the dying minutes of the match where they tried to create a few opportunities for themselves via a few desperate long balls but it was really too little too late.
A disappointing loss for Japan means they are going to have to really work to make it out of the group stage, if they play like they did in the first half defensively and show the same attacking prowess they did in the Confederations Cup last year they should comfortably beat Greece and will just have to hope for a result against the highly impressive Colombia. As for Ivory Coast this win will prove vital to them but they look a team that could easily slip up as their defence is lacking compared to their next two opponents and as Japan proved for a lot of this game their attacking players can be contained with the right set up.