Wednesday March 5 2014
Buffon: England clash key

Gianluigi Buffon has signalled Italy’s opening Group D clash with England as key to the success of their 2014 World Cup campaign.

The Azzurri will open in Brazil against Roy Hodgson’s side on June 14 in Manaus in a game Buffon sees as vital to take a result from.

“Obviously, if we were to beat England in the first match, it would be a big step forward towards qualifying because, in the end, regardless of who you are up against, the first match is your business card, so to speak, and it infuses you with confidence and security for the following matches,” the Italy captain has commented to Goal this week.

“It's true that in the more recent matches we haven't managed to beat Uruguay very often, but it is also true that statistics are there to be proven wrong.

“Also the match against Uruguay is the last of the group stage and I hope that it won't have to be the match of a lifetime, because that would mean that we have failed in the other two matches, or at least in one of them.”

The Juventus No 1 was asked of the prospect of seeing Mario Balotelli joined in a potential tournament squad by fellow youngsters Marco Verratti and Lorenzo Insigne.

“Balotelli, Insigne and Verratti are undoubtedly young and talented," the Juventus skipper enthused.

“One [Balotelli] is maybe slightly more affirmed than the others, but ultimately their careers and their fortunes will only depend on their will to amaze and the effort they put into what is our profession and our sport.”

Buffon was speaking at the launch PUMA’s new Italy World Cup shirt.

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