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2014 World Cup Preview: Italy vs. England

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Wayne Rooney celebrating after scoring for England

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Two of the most historic teams in the history of international soccer will kick off their first game of the 2014 World Cup tomorrow and it most certainly is a big one considering the difficulty and the small margin of error in the knockout stage. Italy vs. England is one of the best games in the knockout stage out of all the groups and the main reason for that is that both teams have championship aspirations.

Fortunately for the British, Danny Welbeck will likely play in this match, despite being banged up with a knee injury. Youngster and fellow Arsenal teammate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is not as lucky, as he will not be available for Saturday’s game because of a knee injury. It feels like he has been around forever, but Wayne Rooney will likely be playing in his last World Cup this year. After all, Rooney has a ton of mileage on his body. Daniel Sturridge is a player to watch, as the striker is a goal-scorer and a good one at that.

For the Italians, Mattia De Sciglio will not be available, as the A.C. Milan defender has a lingering calf issue. Even though the loss of De Sciglio is a blow, Italy is the healthier team right now and that will be a clear advantage in this one, especially with the humidity in Brazil. Something to remember is that Mario Balotelli will be playing in his World Cup and Balotelli will be one of the best players on the pitch tomorrow.

Italy and England met in the 2012 Euros and they ended in a draw at 0-0. Obviously, Italy and England are the favorites to come out of Group D, but things will get really difficult for the team that loses this one. Uruguay is a team many are sleeping on and they will likely beat Costa Rica tomorrow as well. This game tomorrow is an important one and whoever comes out on top will benefit a lot.

Ryan Ratty is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @RyanRattyNFL or add him to your network on Google.

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