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'Humble in the Jungle': Cahill and England fail to contain Balotelli, Candreva, lose 2-1

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Gary #VanPersieing Cahill
Gary #VanPersieing Cahill
Warren Little

I'm shamelessly stealing Callum's headline from the main SBN site's recap of this match, because it's amazing.  No, not the match, the headline.  Humble in the Jungle; so perfect.  As Steve McManaman put it, England huffed and puffed, while Italy just stayed calm and simply took care of business as they're wont to do whenever at the World Cup.

There was some promise to England's play, with pace and some new inventions added into the attack courtesy of Daniel Sturridge - who, unsurprisingly, grabbed England's only goal - and his Liverpool teammate Raheem Sterling.  Second-half substitute and fellow Merseysider Ross Barkley posed a decent threat as well.  But even though England had plenty of possession, they couldn't break Italy down, nor could they match the Azzurri's class, in general, on the ball.

It was yet another game when England failed to properly pressure Andrea Pirlo (Italy midfield > England midfield, just in case that was ever in doubt), and even more shockingly, consistently failed to adjust to the threat posed by Lazio winger Antonio Candreva.  Certainly not the most illustrious name in Cesare Prandelli's squad of 23, but his pace and overall skill repeatedly exposed England's left side.  Yes, there are already cries of 'bring back Ashley Cole.'

Leighton Baines wasn't alone in failing to impress; England's entire back four seemed shaky and out of synch.  Bring back John Terry?  He might just help prevent Even Cahill from making simple mistakes in marking the opposition's lone striker -- one of the most dangerous in the world -- and the man he himself identified as the greatest threat in the build-up to the World Cup.  Candreva's perfect cross sailed in from the right; Mario Balotelli rose at the far post and made no mistake.  Cahill made his desperation face and Baines and Gerrard finally caught up with play, I think.

Once up 2-1, Italy went into lockdown.  There wasn't much confidence in England finding another equalizer; sure enough, they did not.  Fortunately for the Three Lions, Uruguay hilariously lost to Costa Rica earlier in the day, so the race for second place in this group is still wide open.  Cahill & Co will have to do better than today though, especially with two winnable games remaining.