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Super Mario strikes: Italian wise guys tame Three Lions

“How would you like it if I have Mario Balotelli kick in your back door, eh? Would you like that?”

Italian “wise guys” are renowned for unanswerable questions and the England football team certainly could not find the right response yesterday as the “Azzurri” launched its 2014 World Cup campaign with a 2-1 win over England on a thrilling day in the land of samba.

Photo: Italy forward Mario Balotelli (front) celebrates his country's winning goal against England at the Amazonia Arena in Manaus today.   (Copyright AFP 2014/Fabrice Coffrini)
Photo: Italy forward Mario Balotelli (front) celebrates his country’s winning goal against England at the Amazonia Arena in Manaus yesterday.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Fabrice Coffrini)

Costa Rica stormed back from a goal down to whip South American champions, Uruguay, 3-1, which has got to feel like getting a cut tail from your baby sister. And Côte d’Ivoire pulled off a similar revival to edge Japan 2-1 thanks to a cameo from icon Didier Drogba who had no goals or assists but gets all the plaudits anyway for being his country’s most recognizable figure.

Probably for the same reason that the COP’s membership thinks Winston Dookeran embodies everything that the party needs. Of course, unlike Dookeran, you can actually see what Drogba does for a living.

What a World Cup this has been so far; 28 goals from just eight matches with no shortage of talking points!

Even England coach Roy Hodgson got in on the act. Hodgson’s style is normally closer to the Gringe than Father Christmas; but today his team played with commendable verve and ambition.

Raheem Sterling and goalscorer Daniel Sturridge, both of whom might have represented Jamaica, threatened throughout while captain Steven Gerrard and talisman Wayne Rooney did the menial chores.

But the streetwise Italians were just too clever. Claudio Marchisio’s opening goal was beauty meets pragmatism; like Destiny’s Child operating a bucket brigade.

Rooney set up Sturridge’s equaliser with a brilliant left side cross. But then “Super Mario” kicked in Joe Hart’s back door for the winner and Andrea Pirlo warned England to let sleeping dogs lie with with a free kick that defied physics before rebounding off the bar.

“How would you like if I did that again, eh? Only this time I smash it off the underside of the crossbar, against the back of your big head and into your net. Would you like that?”

Photo: There were some good fellas in Italian football gear today.
Photo: There were some good fellas in Italian football gear today.

England didn’t give too much trouble after that. But the “Three Lions” were far from eliminated yesterday, especially after Uruguay’s collapse against Costa Rica.

Can this World Cup get much better?

Well, Argentina’s Lionel Messi makes his bow today against Bosnia and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo follows on Monday against Germany. If you are not excited yet, check your pulse!

AboutMr. Live Wire

Mr. Live Wire
Mr. Live Wire is an avid news reader who translates media reports for persons who can handle the truth. And satire. Unlike Jack Nicholson, he rarely yells.

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38 comments

  1. He did pick a balanced team… but they not beat any South American team in that heat…. not even Uruguay.. 🙂 …

  2. I thought he could have picked both Totti & Cassano, maybe this Immobile guy could have been left behind, although he was very good. But at times for Roma this season, Totti seemed to be turning back the clock & i noticed a the Italy press calling for his recall a few times.

    But its small margins we talking & indeed Prandelli picked a fine team regardless.

  3. You all rate Totti more highly than me. I don’t think Totti can contribute more than Cassano. And he is potentially disruptive. I think Prandelli picked a fine team.

  4. Ian R Briggs Ye if Prandelli had picked both guys & had copied that Juventus 3-5-1-1 system, thus having two playmakers Pirlo (Registra) & Totti (Triquartista) everybody needed to be scared ha..

  5. Agreed colin on that one about totti and rossi… I like how things shaping up… outside of a few teams there are no gimmies and big sides have to play right out of the gate or risk losing. No draws yet and avg. 3 goals a game. Lets hope they can keep it up.

  6. Might be wishful thinking, but based on what I saw in CONCACAF qualifying, if Trini didn’t slip up vs Guyana – it’s not implausible that they could have potentially been at this world cup.

  7. Colin Benjamin You forgot to say IMO at the end of your comment about USA. LOL.

  8. But enuff abt ENG for a moment, Italy could be any teams nemesis once Pirlo & Balotelli stay on form. If Prandelli had picked Totti & Rossi, they might have been even more lethal.

  9. Lmao. You’re right Lasana Liburd. The Concacaf qualification pecking order will change in the next four years sadly the Caribbean will not be a part of it.

  10. Ian R Briggs CONCACAF has improve in the sense that it is no longer a walk in the park for teams like Mexico to qualify, they were poor in qualifying & were luck to even be at this cup. We have seen Honduras & Panama emerge in recent years, plus Guyana got to the semi-final qualifying stage for the 1st time. However the quality of football wasn’t high quality or eye catching IMO.

    As I mentioned before, I just believe Uruguay’s decline into a ageing team had more to do with it – instead of anything that amazing by Costa Rica.

    USA the best team in CONCACAF under Klinsmann play like old school Germany. Very organized, hard to beat, but not a flair side.

  11. loooool…i love how the world cup and how teams are progressing!! even from concacaf can make trinidad and tobago football seem like peasants and being left behind the wave of progress!!! while we have dotish imbeciles running this country football!! …………..doh worry tnt go make it to russia 2018!!WC!!..

  12. Panama will probably be the next CONCACAF powerhouse though right Jason Moyo Sylvester? They have some top youth teams coming through.
    And what are our youth teams doing again?
    Oh yeah… This: http://wired868.com/2014/06/10/warrior-crisis-coaches-players-and-staff-unpaid-youth-teams-inactive/

  13. Ian R Briggs i won’t say the gap is gone but Costa Rica are an ideal model for teams in our region who are rebuilding to follow.

  14. Bird, well i dont have to tell u my thoughts on that game 🙂 #forzaazzurri #vivaitalia

  15. Let’s see how Honduras fares against France…

  16. Italy has a lot of subtle tactical options in its squad. I give them credit for that. I think Hodgson’s changes were forced on him a bit. I’m no Hodgson or England fan. I don’t think they are title contenders. But I initially didn’t them even getting out of their group.
    Ian R Briggs, the other confederations have really grown from the exposure since FIFA went to 32 teams. Imagine the team who got the biggest cut tail so far is Spain!
    I would be backing Costa Rica to advance along with Italy.

  17. Ha ye, ENG don’t see themselves as world beaters nor are over-rated in any sense currently. Observing british media or public reaction before this world cup, this is the most low key arrival ENG got going into a world cup since god knows when. Their certainly was no live BBC broadcast of the team boarding the airplane as their was in 2006 for example.

    Opta Joe sports stats said this: “91% – England’s pass completion tonight was the highest they’ve ever recorded in a World Cup game (1966-2014). Progress”

    Plus even Italy’s coach was highlighted improvement he saw in the team – http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/27855772

  18. Yeah they will probably manage to get out of the group but i don’t see it as them just running out of steam. Italy adapted and i am not a fan of Hodgson and his substitutions.

  19. Yes Lasana LiburdLinked every team has weakness but the trick is can you exploit them. Everybody know maradona only uses his right foot to walk and run, yet to this day, even with him@ 350lbs no team in the world can stop him by sending him right. Italy knows its weaknesses, but once exposed they adjusted. England did not. Hence they lost. And colin, the result in CR game was right. Concacaf 1st place team beat Conmebol 5th place team. That never used to happen before. Keep ignoring the strength of our region and hold on to images of world cup’s past. Don’t mistake our mickey mouse administration for concacaf growth. The gap is now a crack.

  20. I don’t think England sees itself as a world power anymore. We are really talking about them advancing from the group and not winning the whole thing.
    England ran out of steam and Italy deserved its win. But I can understand the optimism. And sturridge and sterling are quick enough to give most defenses a rough time.

  21. I agree with Ian R Briggs, my contribution is that England are no way near the world power they think they are. In my humble view of the world game they are overrated. Yes Sturridge and Sterling made positive contributions against a back line lacking real pace, but once Italy adjusted where was the plan B?

  22. You intriguing me Jason Moyo Sylvester. Put something in the soup nah?
    Briggs every team in the World Cup has weaknesses. If you play on the front foot, you have a decent chance of covering those up.
    I feel the positive approach from the England team is the right one and gives them a better chance than I initially thought they had.

  23. What can I say about our mother country eh, well I see that they finally have more black players representing them ent, long time overdue, so I definitely like what I saw so they will be going to the second round. Them really good yes.

  24. …Very Good observation Ian R Briggs…correct

  25. Costa Rica’s win vs Uruguay had more to do with Uruguay’s decline. For anyone who watched the CONMEBOL qualifiers, even when Suarez was fit – Uruguay struggled & was the worse team in S America qualifying. And if they had a stronger opposition than Jordan in the play-off’s they probably would not have been at the world cup.

    Costa Rica backline isn’t fast, Uruguay’s forwards just slow, Forlan is not forlan of before & of course Suarez didn’t play.

    Costa Rica biggest threat is that youth Campbell, plus they missing their record goal-scorer Alvaro Sabario.

    So I won’t jump to say CONCACAF on the up based on this result, CONCACAF 2014 WC qualifying, wasn’t exactly blessed with eye catching football.

  26. England beating Costa Rica for sure. I have a $500 from an old monopoly set! Could go higher too:)

  27. Sterling and sturridge are of Jamaican heritage

  28. not interested in England being the better side…. that quite frankly is on paper…. England middle weak (too old) and the wing backs soft (Baines not ready and Johnson prone to mistakes)… strength is wide with sterling and sturridge…. problem is CR back 4 are not slow and can run with sterling…. CR has strength in areas that are Englands weaknesses…. time to call a spade a spade…Trini football may be stuck in mud but OUR REGION FOOTBALL is moving forward…. England not getting out the group…. viva CONCACAF 🙂

  29. Ian, england is the better side. The conditions do not suit them at all. Costa Rica will have to come good to beat them

  30. England not beating Costa Rica…..

  31. Hmm, comments here prove why football is the greatest sport. We can all watch the same game and have totally differing views.

  32. Lasana Liburd Italy did play that “Doppio Registra” tactic..ha I love that word

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BqHyHjAIgAId3vy.jpg

  33. hmm Liked England play!! they will go far!!

  34. I like what England did. I can see them coming out of the first round

  35. It was a very positive performance from England. Good start.

  36. If England play their next two games with the same intensity they should make it to the next rounds. I ain’t mad at them either..

  37. England best performance in competitive international since the 1998 WCQs vs Italy in Rome. I have no complaints, the coach was brave with his selection & the team played aggressively – Italy just were better. So no complaints.

    Confident they can handle that ageing Uruguay team & Costa Rica & reach the 2nd round at least.