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ENGLAND SET TO GET THEIR CAMPAIGN UNDER WAY

14 June 2014

England’s World Cup campaign gets under way at 11pm on Saturday evening when they face Italy.

Roy Hodgson’s side were knocked out of the European Championships on penalties by Italy two years ago. 

The hopes of a nation are all on Roy 23 man squad as they look to progress out of the “Group of Death”.

The Three Lions are the outsiders for their opening fixture and are priced at 2/1 while the Italians, who aren’t in great form leading up to the tournament, are priced at 9/5.

The draw, which is a result that could favour both nations, is priced at 2/1. 

While England didn’t win either of their two warm up matches in Miami, Italy haven’t won since they qualified for the World Cup back in September.

Their last victory was a 2-1 win over Czech Republic and since then they have gone on to draw six of their seven matches.

When the two sides met in at Euro 2012, the game ended goalless. SkyBet have priced a 0-0 draw at 5/1. 

They might not have played to their full potential against Ecuador and Honduras but the likes of Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck are certainly due a good tournament. 

Rooney has not set the world alight at a major tournament since the European Championships back in 2004. 

He is 6/4 second favourite to score at anytime on Saturday evening only behind former Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli. 

Should he score this summer in Brazil it will be his first in the World Cup finals. 

England and Italy met in an international friendly at Wembley in 2012 and Hodgson’s side won 2-1.

Goals from Phil Jagielka and Jermaine Defoe were enough for England who came from 1-0 down following Daniele De Rossi’s early strike. 

England are priced at 11/1 to replicate that score and at the same time put themselves in a commanding position to qualify from the group stage. 

Just like punters could bet on which players were likely to be selected as part of Roy’s squad, you are also able to do exactly the same to start against Italy. 

Joe Hart (1/50), Leighton Baines (1/33) and Steven Gerrard (1/33) all seem certain to start in Manaus on Saturday, however, there are a couple of places that are still up for grabs.

Having has a less than impressive international career Glen Johnson’s place could be in doubt and Phil Jones (5/1) could start at right-back – albeit not his strongest position. 

Ross Barkley (5/1) is also pushing for a start having impressed last season and that could cause doubts over whether Raheem Sterling will be given the nod by Hodgson. 

Also in group D, Uruguay take on Costa Rica

Uruguay are the odds on favourites at 4/9 to win their opening fixtures at this summer’s tournament while Costa Rica are big outsiders at 7/1. 

The draw is priced at 3/1.

Should Luis Suarez be fit enough to play a part in Saturday’s match he will be favourite to score. 

Despite having minor surgery last month he is still 3/1 to score first 8/11 to find the back of the net at anytime. 

His fellow countryman Edinson Cavani is also short priced to score the first goal at just 7/2.

SkyBet aren’t giving Costa Rica much hope of scoring the first goal, which could prove to be an omen, as that is usually the case. 

Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz is 11/1 to score first against Uruguay while he is 33/1 to score a brace – a feat he has not achieved for over a year.

The first match on Saturday comes from Group C and Columbia’s match against Greece

Columbia are odds on favourite at 4/5 while Greece are priced at a drifting 15/4 and the draw is 23/10. 

The South American side are unbeaten in their last seven matches a comfortable win could be expected. SkyBet have priced Colombia at 8/1 to win by more than three goals. 

Likewise Greece’s form is also good, however, they haven’t played against high quality opposition. 

The Greeks are 5/6 in the betting for a win/draw double betting. 

Ivory Coast get their campaign under way against Japan in Recife, in the tournament’s only 2am kick-off (UK time). 

It is expected that this match will be tightly contested despite the Ivory Coast having a much more recognised team.

In their 23 man squad they have Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure, Kolo Toure, Wilfred Bony amongst others while the Japan squad has only one recognisable name in Manchester United attacking midfielder Shinji Kagawa. 

On Sunday ITV have coverage of Switzerland face Ecuador in the capital Brasilia. 

Switzerland (11/8) are the slight favourites heading into this match, however, Ecuador (11/5) will be out to show they are no pushover. 

SkyBet are offering even money that both teams will score while Switzerland to win to nil is 11/4.

Michael Arroyo, who scored a sensational goal against England last week, is 9/1 to open the scoring for Ecuador. 

Later on France host Honduras on the BBC at 8pm. 

The 1998 World Cup winners trashed Jamaica 8-0 on Sunday evening having only drawn with Paraguay the week before. 

France are 4/11 favourites while Honduras are priced at 8/1 after surprising England last weekend.

In the last six matches France have won they haven’t conceded a goal. 

In that time they have scored 26 goals so they are not short of firing power up front. 

A 4-0 win for France is priced at 16/1 and a Karim Benzema hat-trick is also the same price.

Paul Pogba is also in the squad for this summer’s World Cup and he is priced at 11/4 to score within 90 minutes. 

Rounding off the weekend’s action the tournament’s second favourites, Argentina, as they entertain Bosnia and Herzegovina

Argentina (2/5) undoubtedly have one of the best players in the world amongst their ranks in Lionel Messi, while Bosnia’s (7/1) main goal threat is Edin Dzeko. 

Messi, like Rooney, is yet to fire on all cylinders at a World Cup priced quite short at just 13/5 to score a brace in his first game of this summer’s tournament. 

For those that don’t think Messi will be the first to score SkyBet are offering 45/1 for Angel Di Maria to score first and Argentina to win 3-0. 

Manchester City’s Bosnia striker, Dzeko, is priced at 8/1 to find the back of the net first while his City team mates Sergio Aguero and Pablo Zabaleta are respectively priced at 3/1 and 28/1.  

Tournament Tips: 
GROUP C: Colombia v Greece: Colombia to win and over 2.5 goals in the match – 2/1
Ivory Coast v Japan: Ivory Coast to win 3-1 & Yaya Toure to score first – 130/1
GROUP D: Uruguay v Costa Rica: Uruguay to win 3-0 & Luiz Suarez to score first – 20/1
England v Italy: England to win and less than 2.5 goals in the match – 7/2
GROUP E: Switzerland v Ecuador: Switzerland at half-time; Ecuador at full-time – 40/1
France v Honduras: Olivier Giroud to score a brace – 4/1
GROUP F: Argentina v Bosnia & Herzegovina: Argentina to win 4-0 and Sergio Aguero to score first – 35/1


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