Tuesday 12 December 2017

Abate tips English to spring a surprise

Ignazio Abate of Italy
Ignazio Abate of Italy

Matt Law

Ignazio Abate has warned his Italy team-mates that England could be the dark horses of the World Cup.

England and Italy are now in Brazil ahead of their Group D opener in Manaus on Saturday.

Abate has been impressed with what he has seen of England since Italy knocked Roy Hodgson's team out of the 2012 European Championship on penalties.

"England have changed a lot, they have created a good mix and they could be the revelation of this World Cup," said the AC Milan right-back, who has won 20 caps.

"It will be a very difficult match, but I am convinced we will arrive in the best physical and mental condition. We need to erase what has been done previously and start again with great humility.

"At the Euros, we started with a lot of scepticism, no one bet a euro on us, but then we got to the final thanks to our desire to surprise.

"That should be the task in the World Cup, too. We can't think we are a great team who can play within itself or wait for an individual to come up with the goods. As long as we don't lose our humility and willingness to make sacrifices, we can cause anyone problems."

Giorgio Chiellini, Italy's vice-captain, agrees with Abate that England have vastly improved and is impressed with Hodgson's Liverpool contingent.

"In Kiev, we played one of the best matches we have played," Chiellini said. "Over these two years, both teams have changed, we are rejuvenated.

"They have brought a group on, a Liverpool contingent, who have done very well. Maybe, as individuals, they have changed more compared to us, but their way of playing remains the same. It will be a tough match." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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