World Cup 2014: England one of the best - Cesare Prandelli

Cesare Prandelli

England have changed from relying on long balls to a skilful side with "one of the strongest attacks in the World Cup", says Italy boss Cesare Prandelli.

Mario Balotelli's header gave the Azzurri victory in their Group D opener after Daniel Sturridge cancelled out Claudio Marchisio's early strike.

Italy's Mario Balotielli heads the winner past England's Joe Hart

"It was an epic match and I feel that England is one of the strongest teams in the World Cup," said Prandelli.

"They have changed a lot, and I am so satisfied. We played a great game."

England were deservedly knocked out of Euro 2012 by Italy after a quarter-final penalty shootout, having struggled to create any chances of note.

But two years on, Roy Hodgson's youthful side created numerous opportunities in Manaus, with Wayne Rooney spurning a good chance to level when he pulled a shot wide at the near post.

"We don't have players who are as powerful as England's but we have technically skilled players, and in the first half we had better ball possession," said Prandelli.

Mario Balotelli and Joe Hart
Italy have scored in each of their past 15 World Cup matches, a national record

"Until just a few years ago, England relied on long balls but they are now a skilled team with excellent triangular passing."

Prandelli said it was "crazy" there were no time-outs or drink breaks in the intense heat and humidity of Manaus, but was pleased with how his team coped with the energy-sapping environment.

"We suffered, but the response of the players to the conditions was extraordinary," he said.

England manager Roy Hodgson on the defeat against Italy

Victory put Italy second in Group D after Costa Rica surprisingly beat Uruguay earlier on Saturday.

Match-winner Balotelli said: "Italy suffer, they always suffer, but the important thing is to win.

"Now we have to keep our feet on the ground and just focus on each game that comes."

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As It Stood

A

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Brazil11003123
2Mexico11001013
3Cameroon100101-10
4Croatia100113-20

B

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Netherlands11005143
2Chile11003123
3Australia100113-20
4Spain100115-40

C

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Colombia11003033
2Ivory Coast11002113
3Japan100112-10
4Greece100103-30

D

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Costa Rica11003123
2Italy11002113
3England100112-10
4Uruguay100113-20

E

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1France11003033
2Switzerland11002113
3Ecuador100112-10
4Honduras100103-30

F

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Argentina00000000
2Bos-Herze00000000
3Iran00000000
4Nigeria00000000

G

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Germany00000000
2Portugal00000000
3Ghana00000000
4USA00000000

H

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Belgium00000000
2Algeria00000000
3Russia00000000
4South Korea00000000
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