England and Italy did battle in one of the highest profile matches so far in the 2014 World Cup in Manaus on Saturday night, and fantasy managers throughout the game will have been watching keenly to see whether the likes of Rooney, Sturridge and co. could overturn four-time Champions Italy, who had been dealt a blow in the run-up to the game with veteran custodian Gianluigi Buffon ruled out through injury.
The truth is, by the time the full-time whistle was sounded, there may have been plenty of positives for the Three Lions but the 2-1 loss to the Italians has left them with a bit of battling to do if they want to get through to the next stage of the competition.
Claudio Marchisio, the Italy midfielder valued at €9.00m in our new World Cup fantasy football game, got his summer off to a great start by putting the Azzuri ahead after 35 minutes, and bagged himself 20 points from the match – putting him joint top of the Italy squad with Mario Balotelli, who gave his country the lead – and ultimately the win – by restoring Italy’s advantage when he netted past former Man City team-mate Joe Hart.
Those goals came either side of half-time, and either side of an England equaliser from Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge, who found himself perfectly positioned to get on the end of a Wayne Rooney cross less than two minutes after Marchisio’s opener. That assist gives Rooney a tally of 10 points after one game, though his performance during the latter stages of the game did have some sections of fans taking to social media to question whether the former Everton striker warrants a starting place in the team.
Sturridge’s Liverpool team-mate Raheem Sterling started the game, and looked a shining beacon of light in the white shirts, but he ultimately finished the game on -5 after receiving a yellow card. That total does not really reflect his overall showing, however, and so any managers with him in their fantasy World Cup sides should not necessarily despair at this stage – it would probably be more apt to consider it a five point investment, as with the pace, energy and passion he displayed he will surely not be too far away from either the scoresheet or list of assists at some stage during the summer tournament.
While the game itself was a fairly close one in certain terms, fantasy managers reading this are really more concerned about what the game means as far as their team’s points total goes – and from that respect Italy were the easy winners. Only two England players – the aforementioned Sturridge and Rooney – ended on positive points, with 20 and 10 respectively, while Sterling’s booking puts him at the bottom of the list with Leighton Baines and Glen Johnson on -5 each, giving England’s collective points tally at +15.
Italy, though, had heavy hitters Balotelli and Marchisio on 20 each, while Antonio Candreva and Marco Verratti grabbed 10 each owing to their respective assists, and no Italians ended up losing their fantasy managers any point – meaning Italy beat England by 60 collective points to 15.
England’s next game is against South American outfit Uruguay, who lost their own first game 3-1 in a surprise defeat to Costa Rica, who take on the Italians. The order of the fixtures means that things could look much more even in the group by the time Friday rolls around.