A young Italy fan in Manaus awaits Mario Balotelli and Andrea Pirlo ahead of the England game.
Welcome to Mashable's liveblog of World Cup 2014's first and most highly-anticipated meeting of former World Cup winners. (Okay, yes, Italy won it four times and England is just on the one — for now). Roy Hodgson's England play Cesare Prandelli's Italy at 6 p.m. ET Saturday, and we'll be right here talking about the match starting at 5:30 p.m. ET. At stake: a vital lead in a World Cup group of death.
Indomitable sports reporter Sam Laird is our eyewitness in the stadium in Manaus, deep in the Amazon, and he'll provide your objective play-by-play alongside the riotous color of the scene. Meanwhile, Mashable's resident Italian, Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, and its resident Englishman, me, will cast objectivity to the four winds and go toe-to-toe over their teams. American Mashable staffers will be on hand to mop up any blood and offer what may possibly be more neutral analysis.
In the words of the X Ambassadors, providers of the thumping soundtrack to what is probably the coolest and certainly the longest ad of the World Cup, ain't no God on the streets in the heart of the jungle. And there ain't no God on the pitch in the heart of the jungle, either. The heart and skill of 22 players and four officials will decide this thing in real time. (We would have it no other way; after all, every Englishman remembers what happened when the "hand of God" entered a crucial World Cup fixture, and it wasn't pretty.)
In the meantime, catch up on the story so far. Here's Sam's analysis of the Group of death in question, plus his primer on everything you want to know about how the World Cup works but were afraid to ask, and the tl;dr version — in haiku form.