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The state of the pitch in Manaus 

Pitch woes threaten to scupper English hopes

England are almost ready to tackle 2006 World Cup winners Italy, the side who famously knocked them out of Euro 2012, in front of an estimated television audience of 600 million people on Saturday night.

Good job then, being at the world's largest sporting event, that the pitch will be in decent nick then, right?

Unfortunately not. Yesterday, the head groundsman for the turf provider confirmed: "Frankly, Manaus is in bad shape."

At least this year’s customary excuse is already sorted. Without a dentist chair or metatarsal in sight, the lack of get-out clauses was proving to be slightly unnerving.

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