Photo: Italian maestro Pirlo and England general Gerrard (Getty Images)
In a highly anticipated match that is being talked about throughout the entire United Kingdom, England takes on 2006 winners Italy in a crunch opening World Cup encounter. The Three Lions still have memories of the Andrea Pirlo master-class from Euro 2012 and are out for revenge against the Azzuri.
Both teams had their troubles with injury heading into the World Cup as Thoe Walcott, Kyle Walker and Andros Townsend were all ruled out quite early for England. Guissepe Rossi was in great form but fell victim to the ACL unjury which led to his exclusion from the Italian squad and Riccardo Montolivo suffered an injury in a friendly match.
England's boss Roy Hodgson has a good mixture of youth and experience in his team and will have the services of Man City's Joe Hart in goal. Phil Jagielka of Everton and Chelsea's Gary Cahill are expected to be in the heart of defense being flanked by Leighton Baines and Glen Johnson in the full back positions.
Liverpool's skipper Steven Gerrard may be partnered in central midfield by Arsenal's Jack Wilshere with Adam Lallana, Wayne Rooney and Raheem Sterling operating behind Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool in attack.
Italy on the other hand will be led by skipper Gianluigi Buffon in goal with Georgos Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci all of Juventus marshalling the defense. Mattia De Sciglio and Ignazio Abate are expected to be the full backs. Andrea Pirlo should be partnered in midfield by club mate Claudio Marchisio and Roma's hard man Daniele De Rossi .
The attacking threat should be provided by the unpredictable Mario Balotelli, Alessio Cerci of Torino as well as club mate Ciro Immobile who was the top scorer in the Serie A.
This will be a tactical battle between two teams that are impressive defensively. They also have good quality in attack but the game may be won in midfield where the Three Lions must find a way to stop Pirlo. Gerrard will be hoping to dictate play for the English but if Pirlo gets his way then England will be in a lot of trouble, again.