Here in Italy we have been shocked by the defeat by Costa Rica but all is not lost and we think we can beat Uruguay in the crunch game on Tuesday. Our problems are defensive, which is surprising given our reputation. Giorgio Chielini is the worst culprit being now slow and making clumsy challenges. He played a couple of seasons on loan from Juventus for us and looked a most accomplished defender. Back at Juve he formed an imposing defensice trident with Barzagli and Barucci but they have not replicated this level for the Azzurri. Another Juve player who had a poor game v Costa Rica was Claudio Marchisio. Although our full backs – especially Darmian – get forward, we do not have midfielders who go wide, the ‘ala’ or winger . This makes our attack rather static and over-reliant on Balotelli.
I commiserated with Alan Tanner and was genuinely surprised how England have performed. He made the point that you cannot continue to blame bad luck for nearly 50 years without ever reaching a final. Suarez and Messi have shown you can win games not going your way with a flash of brilliance, which England never produced. To me, England are a poor tournament side. They focus on one individual (Rooney), not the tactics, mentality and selection needed to win a tournament, unlike say Germany. Two Fulham players have made names for themselves – Dejagah and Ruiz – who presumably have done their possibility of a big money move no harm. A Fiorentina player has yet to get on the pitch for the Azzurri but Juns Cuadrado has looked good for Columbia.
I cannot recall a more entertaining World Cup since 1970 and, although some of the penalty refusals have been questionable, the referees have been more flexible and kept it at 11 v 11. Eight countries could win it and I really cannot predict who at this stage.