World Cup 2014: Italy are used to the conditions in Manaus, Gianluca Vialli warns England


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The Independent Football

Former Chelsea and Italy striker Gianluca Vialli claims the Azzurri have the edge over England as they prepare to face each other in Manaus in their opening match on Saturday.

"This is the toughest group but Italy have the advantage because they have experienced Brazil before, when they played in last year's Confederations Cup," Vialli said. "Italy know about the conditions, the logistics and what to expect. It's not going to be unknown territory for us.

"England have a young squad and it's going to be really important for them to get the balance right between youth and experience. One of their main problems is going to be that Brazil will be a very alien environment for them."

Vialli believes that the heat and humidity in Manaus will be a crucial factor.

"It's the first game for both teams and it's taking place in the Amazon jungle. Both teams will be more focused on not losing it rather than winning it."

Vialli feels that in key areas, Italy also have the better players.

"If you look at any good side, it needs someone who saves and someone who scores and if you have somebody decent in the middle, then that's a bonus," he said. "So you have [Gianluigi] Buffon against [Joe] Hart, [Mario] Balotelli against [Wayne] Rooney and [Andrea] Pirlo against [Steven] Gerrard. I think Italy have the advantage.

"The expectations for Italy are not that massive, which is good because whenever we are outsiders we do well. Italy have more confidence than England going into this tournament, we have the pedigree."

He added: "England need to get rid of the fear and anxiety and the historical baggage they carry when they play in tournaments. Italy have been in major finals, won the World Cup not that long ago and have nothing to fear."