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World Cup 2014: Today's the day - get ready for England v Italy
DAY three of the World Cup and the day that most of us have been waiting for – England’s first game.
The Three Lions kick off in a tough opener against Italy at a somewhat unfriendly 11pm tonight as their Group D campaign gets under way.
But, before that, Columbia play Greece in the first Group C match at 5pm, before England’s group rivals, Uruguay and Costa Rica, go head-to-head at 8pm.
The eyes of the nation will be on Manaus late tonight, as England take to the pitch in anger at the 2014 World Cup for the first time.
Although the expectation levels seem to have been lowered in recent years, hope will spring eternal for many fans.
There can be few tougher starts than Italy, but avoiding defeat will be a minimum requirement for England to give themselves a chance of getting through to the knockout stages, with Costa Rica and Uruguay likely to be feeling at home in the heat of Brazil.
England fan Chris Wiseman, from Poole, said: “I think we have a difficult group but we should qualify out of it.
“It’s going to be very tight. I think we’ll qualify in second place.
“I think Roy Hodgson has kept things low key and we’ve gone back to how we were many years ago, but if he gets it right from the start we will do well.
“Our expectations are not high and that’s the best way; if we put too much pressure on the England team that causes a problem.
“If we get anywhere near the quarter-finals that would be a successful campaign. I think Roy Hodgson is a good tactician.
“I personally think that going with a couple of the young guys is quite exciting, but my view on the defence is that I’m worried.
“I think we’re very good going forward, but at the back we’re exposed a little bit.
“Our first game is going to be an interesting one; we could get a tight win there, but there won’t be many goals.”
Joseph Flathi, of Valentino’s restaurant in Bournemouth, is following his native Italy.
He said he thought Italy would do well to get to the quarter finals, but thinks it is more likely they will be knocked out in the second round.
Joseph added: “I think it will be a draw between England and Italy, which I think would be the best result for both of us.
“Balotelli is our key man - if he plays well then we might just edge it. When Ballotelli is good he is brilliant, but when he is bad he is really terrible.
“I will be putting a few pounds on Ciro Immobile to get the first goal.”
And if you’re still going at 2am on Sunday morning, you can take in the second Group C match, Ivory Coast against Japan.
We'll be tweeting along to tonight's big game, follow updates or join in by tweeting our chief reporter @SteveSmithEcho
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