World Cup 2014: England opening game 'very difficult' for Italy

Italy's Claudio Marchisio in action against England at Euro 2012
Italy beat England on penalties at Euro 2012

Italy expect a "very difficult match" when they open their World Cup campaign against England on Saturday, according to midfielder Claudio Marchisio.

The Azzurri knocked England out of Euro 2012 at the quarter-final stage, winning on penalties after a 0-0 draw.

Italy dominated that match, but Marchisio knows England have improved ahead of their Group D game in Manaus.

Italy beat Fluminense 5-3 in their final warm-up game

The Juventus player, 28, said: "I think we'll meet a different England to Euro 2012. They are always great clashes."

Everton midfielder Ross Barkley, 20, and 19-year-old Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling are among the new faces in the England squad in Brazil.

"They have changed a lot of players," said Marchisio. "But we have changed too."

Italy qualified for the World Cup with two games to spare, but their only win in their past eight matches came against Brazilian club side Fluminense on Sunday.

Despite that run, Marchisio says the Azzurri are in buoyant mood.

"There is a very positive air here," he said. "The important thing is that everyone feels they are a part of this project."

After facing England, Italy meet Costa Rica on 20 June before concluding their group games against Uruguay four days later.

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