Recently I have been researching Mario Balotelli ahead of the opening World Cup game for England. As one of the most dangerous threats to the Joe Hart goal and one of my favourite players in the World, it's been an interesting read. However there is one aspect to the World Cup that I have completely overlooked, and that's the fact the 2013 FIFA Confederations cup was played in Brazil, as a test run to the World Cup.
As Spain are the current holders of the World Cup and the European Championships, Italy played in the tournament as the most recent tournament runners up, that being Euro 2012.
The tournament was held in June 2013, so the temperatures and conditions for the tournament will be very similar to those of the 2014 World Cup. Italy played their games in Rio de Janiero, Recife, Salvador and maybe more importantly Fortaleza in the North East of the country where conditions were very tough.
Not only did Italy gain experience playing in Brazil, they gained experience playing in a northern territory where the temperatures soar. If that were not enough, the game they played in Fortaleza was the semi-final contest against Spain that went to extra time and then penalties. Meaning that Italy went above and beyond the 90 minutes required against a team that monopolizes possession for long periods of the game.
Italy know what to expect, most of the players who lined up against Spain last June will line up against England this June in the Amazonian temperatures. It might be a small advantage and I'm not one to start making excuses, but this is an aspect to the Italians recent history that can't be overlooked.