Italian reports claim Buffon out of England World Cup opener
Italy skipper and record appearance maker Gianluigi Buffon is set to miss their Group D opener against England, according to reports from Italian press outlets on social media.
These sensational claims have seen Coral cut the odds on a Three Lions victory from 21/10 to 15/8, now making Roy Hodgson’s side narrow favourites. In a match betting market that is now expected to fluctuate wildly before kick-off, a draw is also the same price, with the Azzurri 19/10 to win.
Cesare Prandelli’s backup stopper Salvatore Sirigu has just eight caps compared to the 140 amassed by 2006 World Cup winner Buffon. Although the former has won back-to-back Ligue 1 titles with PSG, he has struggled with handling crosses in high-profile Champions League matches.
If Buffon is out of the England match, then his Juventus teammate Andrea Pirlo, who caused Hodgson’s side so many problems during their last tournament meeting at Euro 2012, will captain Italy. He is the 5/1 favourite with Coral to be named FIFA’s official Man of the Match in Manaus.
Prandelli gave an update on Buffon’s condition, but downplayed the severity of any injury. “He twisted his ankle very lightly, very, very lightly and is receiving treatment at the moment,” the national coach said.
In other team news, AC Milan full back Mattia De Sciglio is definitely out for the Azzurri, so club teammate Ignazio Abate and Giorgio Chiellini should operate down the flanks of their defence.
This match is expected to come too early for Three Lions star Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who is regaining fitness following a medial ligament injury. Danny Welbeck (5/2 to net anytime) is also a doubt, with Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling (3/1 for a goal) a popular choice with England fans to replace him, even if the Manchester United forward is fit for selection.
Only three members of Prandelli’s Italy squad have experience of playing in the Premier League. Argentine-born defender Gabriel Paletta was briefly on the books at Anfield, as was midfielder Alberto Aquilani (11/4 to score), who reportedly suffered from homesickness during his time in England.
Mario Balotelli is the most recognisable face to a British audience, though, and is 11/8 to net anytime after finding form for the Azzurri at recent international tournaments.