WC: Italy, England admit Manaus heat and humidity impacted Group D match at Arena Amazonia
The USMNT now have a better idea of what to expect in their second World Cup match that will be played at the Arena Amazonia against Portugal on June 22.
The heat and humidity in the city of Manaus, which has been one of the talking points entering the 2014 World Cup, were a factor in the first game held in the venue: Italy's 2-1 Group D victory over England on Saturday night.
"It's crazy not having timeouts," Italian coach Cesare Prandelli said in a flash interview after the match, despite emerging on the winning side. "We had to dial back our rhythm to catch our breath. It was impossible to maintain the intensity.
"It's truly absurd that we cannot consider timeouts," Prandelli continued in his postgame press conference. "Luckily the referee was good enough to interrupt every now and then, but it's just absurd. If we want entertainment then we have to allow the players the opportunity to have the energy to produce that kind of performance."
Italian star Mario Balotelli, who scored the game-winner at the start of the second half, backed his coach.
"It's Manaus and the climatic conditions are extreme. It was too hot," he said in a flash interview following the game. "Other places are hot, but not like this. If it was like this everywhere they would have to have timeouts in all the games. … Here [in Manaus], it's bad. Truly."
Prandelli indicated that the Italians specifically prepared for the adverse conditions during their training camp back home and he felt that they were "a little bit better off than England" in withstanding the conditions on Saturday night.
"In the middle of the second half they [England] started to cramp up," Prandelli said. "Which means that our work paid off."
In a loss he called "disappointing," especially bemoaning the lack of quality in the final cross and shot, England manager Roy Hodgson tried to downplay the climate's impact, but he didn't deny it.
"Quite a few of our players cramped up," Hodgson said. "That's something we have to look into. That has to do with hydration. We've worked very hard on that. We still did cramp up quite a lot. But the tempo of the game was quite fast … It was played at the proper tempo and the heat and humidity did take its toll."
England captain Steven Gerrard also wanted to avoid making excuses, but he also revealed that the field "was a tough pitch, it was dry."
"Conditions here in Manaus are going to be difficult because it's going to be hot and humid," Hodgson said. "And all European teams are going to suffer."
Which might bode well for the USMNT against Cristiano Ronaldo & Co. in a little over a week.