Marchisio wary of improved England

Italy midfielder Claudio Marchisio believes England are stronger than they were the last time they met in a major tournament two years ago, but he still feels Italy have the edge.

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The two nations meet in Manaus on Saturday evening in a repeat of their Euro 2012 quarterfinal tie which saw the Squadra Azzurra reach the last four after a penalty shootout win in Kiev.

Italy arguably had the better of that contest over 120 minutes, but Marchisio expects England to provide a much sterner test this weekend.

"They've changed since the European Championship," said the Juventus midfielder at a news conference in Mangaratiba.

"They've got some new faces like [Daniel] Sturridge, but we also have more experience now.

"We're two nations with different characteristics. We're working on our possession and counterattacking, but we're going to have to change our approach against them. We're going to have to be very careful because they are very strong physically and have some very quick players.

"We're trying to improve, and that does not mean that we're not ready and that we have any doubts -- we're just perfecting our machine."

Italy begin their World Cup campaign with "the most important game" in a group Marchisio admits is a lot stronger than the one they failed to emerge from in South Africa four years ago.

"We started the Euros with a draw, yet we still made it all the way to the final," said the 28-year-old. "We're a great national team and we've got to be optimistic.

"We've always done well under [Cesare] Prandelli -- at the European Championship and the Confederations Cup. This group is much harder than in 2010, but we're not looking for excuses."

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