Paolo Di Canio has explained his reservations about England’s chances at the World Cup, and what Italy have to their advantage.
The Three Lions and Azzurri are currently counting down the days to their opening Group D meeting on June 14 in Manaus.
For one of the peninsula’s more successful exports to end up in England, Roy Hodgson’s men have promise, but will lack energy and also, know-how to pace themselves.
“England have some interesting talents, I think of [Raheem] Sterling, [Daniel] Sturridge, [Ross] Barkley,” Di Canio has begun in conversation with the Gazzetta dello Sport.
“I like [Luke] Shaw a lot, he is one of the best full-backs in Europe in my opinion - incredible strength, he is never tired.
“The English do have a problem - they play little together, they do not attack the space and they must have a better understanding.
“In the game with Ecuador it was there - there was a fight, Sterling was sent off.
“England are missing parts, the reserves are not up to scratch. The players are tired - I really like [Wayne] Rooney but he arrives in these competitions cooked, because he plays a lot of games in the season.
“He gives all of himself in every game and the Brazilian temperatures will be very hard for him. They do not have a winter break and it is great to play at Christmas, but they then pay for this in June. In this period, fatigue can be devastating.
“England have freshness, youth, but it will be difficult for them to go through. They are unable to manage themselves, they always put in the maximum and always have to give 200 per cent.
“As a Coach it happened to me several times, I would ask for a lower tempo to respond to certain technical and tactical details, but I couldn’t do anything, they all continue the same.
“Then, historically, a weak point is that the English concede absurd goals, incredible. I have looked over some of the examples of their goalkeepers, and they have made some incredible mistakes.”
Di Canio admits that whilst Italy are also far from perfect, they have factors in their favour.
“Lately I’ve noticed some difficulties for Italy, but the Italian players have the value of flexibility, they can change position.
“They may lack a true identity, but I think that at a physical level our work from the past two weeks will be better than that of the English, who are exhausted.”
The former striker was asked of the prospect of Andrea Pirlo and Marco Verratti playing together for Italy.
“The two can play if they keep the ball for 80 per cent of the time. Pirlo and Verratti have a predisposition to push up, but once the ball is lost it is laborious and time consuming for them to regain it.
“Yes there is De Rossi who can screen in front of the defence, but the two registas are likely to waste energy in constructing play.”
Di Canio also considered Italy’s prospective strike partnership of Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano.
“Cassano can deliver great passes, if the opponent does not pressure him too much.
“Balotelli? He still does not score, not is too bad. Football is not one against all. He does not give the feeling of playing with and for the team.
“Balotelli should score goals, Berlusconi said this in his own way. I see him as unsympathetic, impatient.”
Italy and England also face Costa Rica and more notably Uruguay in the group stages.
“It depends on the recovery of Luis Suarez. It is true that Franco Baresi played well in the ’94 World Cup Final a few weeks after surgery on the meniscus.
“Baresi, however, was a central defender, he had the game in front of his eyes. Suarez is an attacker, and makes different movements, his back is to the goal, he must navigate.
“I do not know. Certainly, someone like Suarez at 70 per cent can ensure those four or five moments that can drive the game.”
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